Menus in senior living facilities used to leave a lot to be desired. In many ways, they were comparable to school lunches or even hospital food. Thankfully, the quality of senior living has improved tremendously over the decades, and this includes senior food options. Numerous senior communities even offer meals that can hold up to fine-dining standards.

The Outdated Approach

What made meals so unappealing in nursing homes, memory care communities and assisted living facilities? In order to provide food that fit a broad spectrum of dietary restrictions, it was prepared with minimum use of spices and salt. It was usually cooked to a soft consistency to accommodate patients who couldn’t chew well. Additionally, senior living facilities often omitted fresh foods to minimize expenses.

Baby Boomer Standards

Now that the baby boomers are entering the senior phase of life, they have to plan for appropriate accommodations for themselves and their parents. While they are downsizing, they want to maintain certain standards. This includes enjoying a restaurant-style dining appearance with respectful service and tasty options.

Modern Senior Living

Today’s senior living culture recognizes that the elderly dining experience counts as an interactive event for elderly adults who ask for tasty diversity in their meals. The leaders of assisted living communities now vie for top chefs to fulfill these dining requirements. They’re also replacing cafeteria-style service with wait staff. Residents are treated more like diners who can place orders and enjoy table-side delivery.

Food Options

As a whole, all generations are becoming more aware about the importance of making healthy food choices. Senior dining selections now include vegetarian, gluten-free, farm-to-table and low-sodium fare, along with plenty of fresh produce. Foods are often prepared from scratch, elegantly presented and appropriately seasoned. You’ll find a full array of sauces and spices as well as menu selections previously omitted, such as pizza, steaks and even sushi.

Dining Staff

Professional chefs aren’t the only food experts on duty. Countless senior living communities also employ dieticians and other wellness personnel who help put together well-balanced meal plans that please the palate. Many facilities also value feedback and implement menu suggestions by their residents.

Fine Dining

When senior communities offer a fine dining experience, it means that residents can enjoy the dining room and turn mealtime into a social event. They can relax, talk to their friends and make new ones. Many seniors can even invite family members from outside the home to join them. In some communities, residents can utilize private banquet rooms to celebrate special occasions with other occupants.

Top communities offer five-star restaurant service with fine china and crystal glasses placed on fine tablecloths with linens. Some even host happy hours or serve alcohol with dinner. In addition to dining rooms, many larger communities have cafes, casual bistros or pubs.

Individual Health Needs

The leaders of senior living communities know that residents have individual health needs. Unlike the days of old, they also understand that food has to taste pleasant and that everyone has individual preferences. While not all offer full menus comparable to regular restaurants, at least seniors have choices for specific meals.

Most commonly, you can expect to see meal and dining programs in assisted living, continuing care, independent living, memory care and continuing care. Senior apartment facilities and communities that offer homes for sale or rent generally don’t offer on-site dining, but they might have small cafes.