Diet & Feeding Assistance in Assisted Housing for Seniors
Dietary needs considerably change as you age, with increasing physical and cognitive limitations. In addition, shopping for groceries and preparing meals may become challenging if you experience chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure or diabetes. However, regularly consuming nutritious, well-rounded diets is essential to enhance overall wellness and enjoy independence later in life. If you plan to move into an assisted housing facility, learn how these institutions plan menus, ensuring they cater to diverse dietary requirements to help residents maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle.
Special Diets for Seniors in Assisted Housing
Moving into an assisted living facility is manageable even if you follow a unique diet. Although you may find it overwhelming initially, communicating your needs clearly to the staff can help make things easy. Moreover, many senior living facilities understand the importance of elevating the dining experience without compromising the nutritional benefits. They have professional chefs, culinary teams, and experienced nutritionists dedicated to the cause.
How Do Senior Living Communities Cater to Dietary Needs?
These institutions rely on understanding the individual resident’s requirements and preferences and communication between the care team members to meet needs. They maintain records of your dietary specifications and adhere to them daily. They have experts to keep note of new residents’ arrival, nutritional changes of the current ones, and allergic foods. They have unique strategies, such as using a color-coded cups and plates system, a detailed seating chart to help the wait staff, cards with residents’ photos, and more to ensure appropriate meals reach the corresponding seniors.
5 Common Dietary Options in Assisted Housing
Food-Sensitive and Allergy-Friendly Meals
If you are nut, gluten, or dairy intolerant and are concerned about the availability of suitable food options, many facilities offer unique menus to accommodate these needs. They take food sensitivities and allergies seriously and follow precautionary measures to ensure safety and reduce the chances of cross-contamination and mishaps.
Low-Sugar or Diabetic-Friendly Diets
Studies show that around 30% of Americans over 65 years have diabetes. It helps to have a controlled yet diverse meal plan with low-sugar foods to meet your nutrition requirements and enjoy the delicious but healthy varieties. In addition, senior assisted housing facilities have experts to provide diabetes education to help you recognize and manage the symptoms and make nourishing food choices.
Sodium plays a crucial role in your body’s ability to maintain hydration. However, consuming too much salt can be harmful if you experience kidney problems or have chronic conditions such as high blood pressure. Assisted living communities have nutritionists to help curate low-sodium diets focusing on fresh, whole foods. They ensure you enjoy nourishing meals, restricting your consumption of commercially prepared foods, including vegetable and canned soups.
Plant-Based or Vegan Diet
Research indicates that some plant-based foods help reduce cholesterol levels, the risk of heart disease, and specific types of cancer. Many seniors prefer vegan meals that typically eliminate most meat and animal by-products, which is why most senior living communities offer this option, depending on individual preferences.
Also known as the mechanical soft diet, it requires all foods to be pureed to ease chewing and swallowing. If you have a medical condition that interferes with your eating ability, senior assisted housing facilities experts can help. They will provide a diet of mashed or blended solids and dense, healthy liquids to ensure you get the required nutrients.
Feeding Assistance in Assisted Living Facilities
Independent feeding often becomes challenging with age. This could be because of declining muscle mass and cognitive functions, ill-fitting dentures, chronic conditions such as Parkinson’s, and more. You may experience discomfort during mealtimes without proper amenities and assistance, often leading to dehydration, weight loss, and malnutrition.
Once you move into a senior assisted living facility, the staff will monitor your eating habits and weight. They have physicians, therapists, and nutritionists to assess your abilities when such changes occur. They can help improve the quality of life with the guidance of specialists.
Common Mealtime Assistance Strategies
Senior assisted living housing communities often have mealtime feeding assistants to help ensure their residents eat adequately and receive sufficient nutrition. They will support you per your limitations and needs while encouraging you to be independent through active participation. These specialists offer altered utensils, pre-cut food, and eliminate excess packaging to make food consumption hassle-free. They also use different methods, such as spoon feeding, verbal directions, and encouragement if required. For residents with vision challenges, feeding assistants refer to food by taste or name and help identify which items are on the plate.
Mealtime Assistance Qualifies You for Different Care Levels
When choosing a suitable senior living community, it is beneficial to consider the number of activities of daily living (ADLs) you need assistance with and to what extent you require the help. Keep the following in mind to make the right choice:
Questions to Ask About Mealtimes When Touring Communities
With many senior living options available, finding a facility that meets your dietary needs while catering to your overall well-being is crucial to maintain your health and enjoy your golden years.
When exploring your choices, ask the following questions regarding special meals and assistance during mealtimes:
- Does the facility offer meal plans?
- Is there a dedicated culinary team?
- Does it include a nutritionist or a dietitian?
- Are snacks available between meals? Are they a part of the standard plan?
- Can the staff adjust and offer meals that meet specific dietary requirements?
- How do they keep track of intolerances, allergies, and food preferences?
- Is feeding assistance available?
- Can I review recent menus and sample a meal during regular mealtime?
- How do the members provide feedback on the dining experience?
- How does the staff handle problems with nutrition and eating?
What to Do When You Have Problems Consuming Food
Many factors, such as the following, affect your desire to eat in your senior years:
- Difficulty in chewing or swallowing food
- A lack of strength to use utensils or cut food properly
- Oral pain or poor-fitting dentures
- Physiologic changes, loneliness, and depression
- Cognitive illnesses like dementia or Alzheimer’s
- Religious or lifestyle habits
Depending on your difficulties, specialists in senior assisted housing communities may offer the necessary help. The speech-language therapist will evaluate the least restrictive diet if you have issues with chewing or swallowing. Here are some popular methods to help increase your food consumption in a senior living facility:
- Consume smaller meal portions on smaller plates.
- Ensure your food is soft enough to chew and swallow comfortably.
- Determine your favorite mealtime and add nourishing foods to the menu, such as avocados, eggs, finely chopped meats, cheeses, peanut butter, and more.
- Have a regular meal schedule and eat at a fixed time daily.
- Consume easy-to-eat snacks such as full-fat yogurt, cottage cheese, string cheese, crackers, and diced fruits.
- Consult your physician and use appetite stimulants if required.
- Also, ask about digestive aids if you experience frequent indigestion.
- Ensure you have a pleasant dining atmosphere to improve your food intake.
Enjoy Individual Care and Attention in Our Assisted Housing
The Holiday Retirement offers an excellent assisted housing facility in Rhode Island with a thoughtful infrastructure, friendly staff, exceptional services, and an enjoyable dining experience. We ensure our residents are happy, safe, and healthy.