The aging Baby Boomer population is hungry. Not for the bland or heavily processed staples enjoyed by the previous generation, but for fresh, flavorful, high-quality menu items. And lots of them! Senior living communities that want to stand out from the competition would do well to offer more of the increasingly diverse dining options residents and future residents want.
Here’s another way to look at it. Your senior living dining program isn’t just about nutrition anymore. It’s about ensuring a more fulfilling dining experience that not only satisfies residents’ nutritional and dietary considerations but also their growing appetites for emerging food trends and top-notch service. In this sense, your menu is now a huge component of your value proposition – especially if you rely on private pay dollars.
With March being National Nutrition Month®, there’s no better time to follow this year’s theme, Put Your Best Fork Forward, at your senior living community. Read on as we take a closer look at the connection between resident satisfaction, overall wellness and your senior living dining experience.
The Importance of Proper Nutrition for Seniors
For seniors, a healthy diet is perhaps even more important than any other age group. As people age, it’s common to experience changes in appetite that occur as the metabolism and activity levels slow down. However, poor food choices or skipped meals can easily lead to malnutrition and a jeopardized immune system. Plus, proper nutrition for seniors can help reduce the risk for conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure and cholesterol, and diabetes.
Additionally, a healthy diet offers the following benefits to seniors:
• Makes it easier to maintain an ideal weight
• Helps them suffer from less digestive problems
• Builds strong bones and teeth
• Improves cognitive function
• Keeps all systems of the body functioning as they should
Improving Senior Nutrition Habits and Overall Wellness with a True Dining Experience
Studies have shown that seniors who eat together often have better nutrition habits than those who dine alone. In fact, 85 percent of seniors in this study reported that having someone to eat meals with to share stimulating conversation found mealtimes far more satisfying. Senior living communities have long recognized the role socialization plays at mealtimes, but the dining experience itself has begun to evolve over the past several years.
Serving meals on plastic trays in a bland, cafeteria-style setting is no longer an option; the dining experience provided in your senior living community is an integral part of overall health and wellness for your residents. Residents and their families have come to expect not only nutritious meals, but a variety of choices featuring fresh, local foods served in a restaurant-style dining room. Plus, they expect top-notch service from a friendly staff. In fact, the dining experience offered is often a top consideration when seniors or their loved ones begin searching for a senior living community.
Provide the Best Dining Experience with Dining Software from MatrixCare
Residents also want to feel like they have some level of contribution to meal planning. Taking their preferences in mind – not only the type of food offered and the time of day meals are served but also their special dietary needs or food allergies – is vital to their overall wellness. Senior living communities need to invest in tools that help keep track of this sort of information, and this is where innovative dining software comes into play.
A web-based menu planning tool like MatrixCare’s MealTracker provides complete nutrition analysis of everything your staff serves to residents; in fact, it includes more than 4,000 nutritionally-analyzed recipes, plus provides the ability to incorporate custom recipes with step-by-step preparation instructions.
Another innovative way to elevate the dining experience at your senior living community is to incorporate innovative technology like a point of sale software solution to further increase residents’ satisfaction. How? Well, your staff will have more time to focus on providing great service rather than taking and managing their orders. MatrixCare’s point of sale software has the ability to help plan meals based on individual needs while ensuring fast, accurate food delivery with less errors.
If you’re ready to learn more about how to ensure the best overall dining experience to your residents or prospective residents, please contact us today.