When planning to move into a retirement community, there are many things to consider. You want to know that the community is going to be safe but also that it has plenty of activities available for residents and their families. You want residents in the community who are active and engaged with life, but also those who enjoy quiet time alone. If you’ve never lived in an assisted living center before, one of your biggest concerns may be dining services—how will the meals taste? Will they have enough variety? What if I need special dietary restrictions or preferences?
While these are all valid questions, one step you can take right now that will bring all these concerns down to earth is asking the retirement community staff about their dining program! Here’s what we recommend asking when exploring your options:
Are The Meals Catered, Or Do You Have A Kitchen On-Site?
If you’re looking for a more affordable dining option that allows you to create your own meals or even just a snack, then having a kitchen on-site is ideal.
However, if you’d prefer not to be in charge of the food preparation yourself—or if the thought of doing so makes your heart skip a beat—then opting for catered meals could be an easier choice.
How Often Do You Offer New Menu Options?
New menu options are essential to maintaining a dining program’s quality and variety. If you’re looking for a retirement community with a dining program that offers frequent new menu items, ask them how often they offer unique items and how often they rotate their current selection.
The answer to this question will help you determine how likely you are to find something different on the menu each time you visit. The more frequently new menu options are offered, the more likely your taste buds will get a chance to explore the world’s culinary delights without getting bored.
Do You Offer Any Specialty Dining Options?
Specialty dining options are a great way to get the foods you crave, and it’s important to know what these options look like in each community.
Specialty dining options often include low-sodium, low-fat, low-carb, vegan/vegetarian, and gluten-free meals. They may also offer ethnic cuisine from around the world. Specialty dining is often more expensive than regular menu items; however, not all communities provide specialty dining at all times or all days of the week.
Do You Provide Meal Service In Residents’ Apartments?
If you live in an apartment, do you have the option of having meals delivered to your door? If so, what is the cost? If not, what are some other options for getting meals provided if needed?
If you live in a house, do you have the option of having meals delivered to your door or going to a dining room and picking them up there? Again: What are the costs associated with these services?
Can You Accommodate Dietary Restrictions?
If you have dietary restrictions, it’s important to ask about these when exploring a retirement community. Some common dietary restrictions include vegan and vegetarian diets, gluten-free or dairy-free diets, low sodium diets, and ketogenic (high fat) diets. A good place to start might be the menu of the dining facility; the website may have some information about this as well. If there is no mention of any special meals for residents with dietary restrictions on the community’s website or menus at its dining facility(s), then you can call them and discuss what kinds of meals would be available for your loved one if they were to live there permanently.