Gourmet Dining in Senior Living Gourmet Dining in Senior Living

When you imagine meals in an assisted living facility, you probably don’t picture something to get excited about – the standard image is cafeteria-grade gruel on par with what elementary school kids encounter in the lunchroom. But a growing number of senior living facilities are taking the food quality up a few notches by hiring well-respected chefs that deliver meals close to what you’d receive in a fine dining establishment.

Why Fine Dining in Senior Living is Taking Off

There are a few key reasons that gourmet dining is becoming a more frequent amenity in senior living facilities.

Aging Boomers

The rise of gourmet meals in assisted living homes is just one of the senior living trends coming about due to the aging of the baby boomer population. Many boomers have sophisticated taste buds and are willing to pay for an assisted living experience that delivers food of a quality they’re accustomed to.

As Mary von Goeben, the executive director of a retirement center in Chicago told the New York Times, “The people entering nursing homes have traveled and they are used to eating at great restaurants.”

If retirement communities want to stay competitive, then providing grade-a meals is a smart way to do it.

Meals Matter

And not just for the basic sustenance you get from them, but also for all that comes with a good meal. Meals are a chance to socialize. They provide you with an opportunity to try something new – assuming the food on your plate isn’t the same thing you’ve had 100 times before. And healthy food that’s prepared well enough to taste great can help seniors stick to their recommended diets and enjoy themselves while doing so.

Recognizing this, many senior living facilities are putting more attention and care into the experience that residents have at mealtimes. No one really gets excited about eating in a cafeteria-like environment, but coming into a stylish space with a well-set table in order to eat delicious and unique food creations – that sounds like something seniors can get into.

Healthy Can Be Tasty

Part of the reason senior living facilities have developed a reputation for bland food is because they’re so focused on dietary needs and restrictions. When you have to cook for dozens of seniors, all of whom have been urged by doctors to eat healthy and many of whom have very specific dietary needs, providing food that works for everyone is a struggle.

Trained chefs know how to balance flavor and health – it’s one of the skills they studied to become a chef. Many fine dining establishments provide healthy meals that emphasize vegetables and fruits already, so the transition to making food that’s healthy for seniors isn’t much of a stretch.

Who Can Afford Gourmet Meals in Senior Living?

Right now, it’s most often the more high-end senior living facilities that hire experienced chefs and aim to provide a fine dining-type experience, but if the trend continues to be popular and appreciated by senior communities, more affordable retirement communities may work to make strides in providing higher-quality food to residents as well.

In the meantime, anyone looking for a good senior living facility can peruse the reviews of the homes in their community to see what current residents have to say about the food quality. Even if you can’t afford an assisted living home that provides fine dining, you can at least avoid one that residents say provides disappointing meals.


Kristen Hicks is an Austin-based copywriter and lifelong student with an ongoing curiousity to learn and explore new things. She turns that interest to researching and exploring subjects helpful to seniors and their families for SeniorAdvisor.com.


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