Published by: Callie Moore

January 1st. The day that bagged salad, runs out at the grocery store. The day that people return in droves to the gym. This year, as I began prepping for my new year’s resolution and Whole30 diet, I began to wonder how our community partners help their residents with healthy eating habits.

Jared Grandlienard, Area Director of Dining Services Support at Trilogy Health Services, was kind enough to chat with me and completely dispel the misconception that menus at senior living communities are limited. Grandlienard explained, “Three factors play heavily into our menu planning: season, resident needs, and regional tastes. However, we talk to residents to find out their preferences and what they would like to see featured. Our goal is for residents to feel more at home, and sometimes that means eating things they used to eat or prepare in their own home.”

Senior communities have their work cut out for them in menu planning. Senior diets are different from your usual “watch your weight” and “reduce your intake” diets. Many seniors have therapeutic and specialty diets like the “No Added Salt” for heart and liver disease patients and the “Consistent Carb” for diabetic patients. According to Grandlienard, “The ultimate goal is to get seniors fed because upon admittance most seniors have incomplete diets that are leaving them undernourished. For some admits who recently underwent hip and knee replacements, meals require quite a bit of protein to add fortifiers and weight. Dietitians work closely with support to approve menus and their modification because even residents on specialty diets are receiving a modified serving of the main meal based on nutritional needs.”

“It’s all about choices. We have a menu that is tailored to tastes,” Grandlienard happily added. It is refreshing to hear how much choice residents have in dictating their meals. Trilogy’s communities even take trips in the spring and summer to local farmers’ markets to ask residents what looks good to them. During the trip, the dining departments help residents learn and try new foods.

Grandlienard expressed that our eating trends through generations have come full-circle. That while farm-to-table and field-to-fork are the trend currently, “Baby Boomer and the WW2 generation want to know where their food is coming from. They like to keep their meals straightforward with a simple protein, fresh veggies and fruit. A while back, not everyone could afford to just go to the grocery store to buy food. It used to be that everyone had their own garden; they were self-sufficient.”

Because residents are no longer the ones preparing the food, communities have found it is important to communicate the meals in advance. CommunityShare is a great tool for doing this. Within the community’s slideshow, meal slides show the dining menu options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. These slides even include pictures to help explain and identify certain menu items. Adding pictures can be a great way to excite an appetite. Grandlienard also added that the CommunityShare TVs have been also used to show chef’s cooking demos of meals. He said that the residents enjoy watching those.

Now I am beginning to wonder the other awesome ways communities use their CommunityShare to promote healthy lifestyles with their residents… We’d love to hear your answers! Tweet @lifesharetech or tag us on Facebook @lifesharetech!