Nearly one million Americans live in a senior living community. And this number is expected to double by 2030.
How do communities accommodate this rapid growth?
There are several important factors for the industry to consider, but the one we’ll focus on today is dining.
As a new generation of Americans enters retirement, senior living communities need to ensure they’re adapting to new dining preferences.
We’re now seeing a few dining trends across the senior living industry that communities are using to keep up and stay relevant:
- Customized menus and branding
- Thoughtful dishes for specialized diets
- Sustainability and wellness initiatives
Customized menus and branding
People like choices, and this is no different for the residents of a senior living community, though there may be certain restrictions or requirements in place.
Communities are customizing their menus to provide more variety. They’re looking to incorporate items and ingredients that are relevant and appealing to their residents.
How? They consider factors like location, community demographics, and preferences.
Communities that start by collecting resident feedback can take what they learn and build a menu that uniquely serves the preferences of their residents.
Customizing your community’s dining menu takes work — sourcing ingredients, creating new menus, prepping new dishes, and adapting based on feedback.
But the results are worth it.
Senior living communities that commit to customizing their dining program will see an increase in resident satisfaction.
And having a unique and popular dining experience gives your sales and marketing teams another compelling talking point when speaking with prospective residents and their loved ones.
Thoughtful dishes for specialized diets
Often, residents in senior living communities need to follow strict or specialized diets, based on differing health requirements.
These menus can lack creativity as they serve a more clinical purpose. But residents who have to follow these guidelines want options like everyone else.
For example, we see this demonstrated with pureed food programs.
Through programs such as these, residents facing issues such as swallowing difficulty or memory disorders have the same opportunity to enjoy their meal.
Many senior living communities are making strides in these specialized diet programs to ensure every resident has a great dining experience.
Sustainability and wellness initiatives
Senior living communities have also shifted to a more sustainable, health-conscious approach when it comes to sourcing ingredients.
Partnering with organizations such as Joyce Farms positively impacts the environment while benefiting from a higher quality food product.
This shift has encouraged communities to incorporate more fresh, local ingredients.
In addition to sustainability, a focus on overall wellness is becoming a top priority for senior living communities. And food plays an integral role in this.
Food impacts the whole person — physically, emotionally, and cognitively.
Senior living communities are realizing this and are working to incorporate food and nutrition education into their programs.
Using these trends to drive census
These and other trends are all focused on improving the resident experience for a new generation of seniors while still accommodating the needs of the current one.
Investing in these trends will boost resident satisfaction while also making your community more marketable as the industry changes.
While food isn’t the only factor when residents choose a community, it is a significant one.
Customizing your program, thoughtfully crafting specialized diet menus, and focusing on sustainability and wellness will delight your current residents and attract new ones.
Tag(s): Senior Living
Other posts you might be interested in
4 min Senior Living May 10, 2017
Customizing the Senior Living Experience: An Interview with Curt Barringer, President of Senior LivingRead More
3 min Leadership Apr 24, 2019
How to Build a Servant Leader MentalityRead More
5 min Senior Living Jan 18, 2021