So many factors go into a favorable dining experience. A successful meal can go far beyond the ingredients, the menu, or even the place setting. The company, smells, sounds, and room temperature all play a part.
If you’re under extreme stress, you’ve just gotten terrible news, or you’re waiting for medical test results for yourself or a loved one, the meal will not be good—even if it’s served in your favorite restaurant!
The challenges of aging can also affect the food’s quality. Our taste buds and ability to smell can fade as we age, impacting taste. When an aging loved one has a change in their eating habits, it’s important to learn about the root cause.
Is it the Chicken or the Egg?
A slight pun intended here! But jokes aside, is it that the food is dreadful, or it’s not cooked correctly, or is there more going on to make the meal bad?
Here’s a list of potential root causes that can impact a dining experience:
While no food will ever be as good as mom or grandma made it, at Edgewood, we aim for flexibility, nutrition, and options. We frequently work with food suppliers on new recipes to improve the dining experience. We’re also willing to share mealtimes with our residents’ guests so families can dine together.
More Helpful Ideas to Improve Mealtime:
Choices, Choices, Choices
Serving a variety of foods, seasonings, and colors can spiff up most meals. We often eat with our eyes first, so it can be unappealing if everything on the plate is gray or cooked similarly.
Salt, Sugar, and Fat
A frequent recommendation from loved ones is that we restrict what residents eat for various reasons. Still, it’s against the law to restrict someone’s decision-making when they live in a residential setting! True story: We cannot control what someone eats. We can and do encourage healthy choices, but what someone chooses is truly up to them.
If someone regularly requests a higher salt, fat, or sugary alternative, they have the freedom to do that. While we all could improve our diets, be graceful when encouraging your loved ones to eat as the doctor recommends.
There’s nothing worse than cotton mouth or choking something down. A proper beverage served at one’s preferred temperature can perfectly accompany every meal. Drinks that are too sweet, bubbly, or filling can impact food intake. Water is best for meals, but it’s just important that something is available to drink.
Not everyone wakes up hungry, wants to eat at noon, or likes to have dinner at 8:00 sharp. Some folks like to chat and make mealtime a more extended event, while others want to eat and get back to their day. Offering flexibility or alternative options can help.
Getting creative doesn’t mean edible orchids or everything served in a miniature form. Still, just as we use creativity to get youngsters to eat, we must do the same for ourselves as we age because our palates change over time.
Back to basics. When serving someone a meal, whether you have houseguests over or you’re a paid food service employee, think of how you’d like a meal to be served to you. If the food is served in a hurry, by someone scowling, splattered all over the plate, or it’s not the right temperature, it won’t be a great experience.
Who’s by your side matters. If you’re alone, you may eat light, sometimes even too lightly, which can result in weight loss. Cooking for one is no easy feat, either. At Edgewood, we make sure you have company at mealtimes. We also take extra care to help new residents navigate the dining room when they first move in, so it’s not an intimidating time of day but a happy one! Having happy diners at your table enjoying a meal with you can make all the difference.
If you’re on the fence about the cuisine at senior living, schedule a tour during mealtime to try it out! Just like offering flexibility at mealtimes is essential, we feel the same about senior living options. You could also consider a short-term stay for a week or a month to experience what it would be like to live at Edgewood long-term. Drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about our services.