Food is an incredible sensory experience, and shared meals help form communities while fostering deep, long-lasting social ties. If your loved one is looking for a senior living community, ask about the dining services program available, and whether or not it is designed to include a social approach to dining as well as nutrition.
The smells and tastes of different foods can provide strong memories, and sharing a meal with others in a community allows chances for a casual conversation that can improve cognitive function and behavior.
The Importance of a Social Approach to Dining for Senior Health
In a study from The Research Shop, it was noted that personal food tastes can be a significant factor in an individual’s identity. People are passionate about their food likes and dislikes and often have a history behind their preferred – and non-preferred – food choices.
Dining in a community setting allows for individual choice as well as discussions about the meal and other topics. The chance for social contact and building social networks (something that can be overlooked when nutrition research is considered). A social-focused dining program can:
- Prevent social isolation, which has been identified as a key risk factor for poor nutritional health in seniors;
- Encourage eating in the presence of friends or family, which can increase nutritional intake and quantity of food consumed by 40%–50% (compared to eating alone in one’s room);
- Decrease the likelihood of experiencing or developing depression;
- Lead to improved mental health thanks to positive daily social interactions around the dining experience.
Dining Service Programs as a Factor in Senior Community Choice
According to a study funded by the National Institute on Aging, the quality of dining programs in senior living communities is key to resident health and happiness. At The Kensington White Plains, we make our dining program a priority for the following reasons:
- Routine. Scheduled community meals can mimic the daily life seniors are accustomed to before arriving at The Kensington White Plains. Life in our senior living communities is built around mealtimes, giving residents something familiar and dependable to look forward to several times each day.
- Choice. Giving seniors as many choices as possible supports their dignity, independence, and personal expression, the cornerstones of quality senior living communities. Offering a wide range of food choices is an important process we use to help your parent feel empowered and more in control of their daily life.
- Social interaction. This is a clear and direct outcome of bringing everyone together in the same place multiple times a day. Our daily meals are a meaningful ritual that functions to provide familiar, safe spaces for relaxed, low-pressure social interaction and engagement.
According to a 2017 Tyson funded healthcare report, more than 80% of surveyed seniors felt that the quality of the dining program was an important consideration when choosing a community. Choice, convenience and comfort were singled out as defining factors. More than 50% of the seniors surveyed desired a wide variety in meal options, and 80% of surveyed family and friends said that they wanted to see welcoming policies that allow and encourage dining with their loved ones – things that are always a part of every meal in our communities.
Fine Dining at The Kensington White Plains
At The Kensington White Plains, our philosophy concerning food goes beyond basic nutrition. Our dining services program is designed to not only to foster an appreciation of food but cultivate strong social relationships within our communities.
We seek to provide each of our residents with a daily routine they can draw comfort from, and a rotating menu of options that allow them to have broader choices and heightened enjoyment of every meal.
We encourage family and friends to come and dine with their loved ones. We believe in an open, friendly community atmosphere, and in enabling our residents to have a home they can invite guests to. We support and value the coming together and sharing meals, conversation, and time together.
The change from living at home to living in a community can be challenging, but overall many seniors benefit from having fresh, wholesome meals prepared and served to them in comfortable, engaging surroundings.
If you have been worried about your mom or dad’s nutrition or their social engagement, knowing that they have access to a community-based dining program can help ease your mind – and their transition to their new way of life.
Schedule your personalized tour today to experience our social approach to dining for yourself.