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4 Factors to Consider in Nutrition Planning at the Assisted Living Communities

nutrition planning for seniors

It is not a rocket science to not to understand the role played by food in everyone’s life. It is the life energy that determines the very way of living and life experience. As such an imperative factor, diet deserves a special mention in the assisted living facilities where the elderly live in with the needs and requirements that are distinctive from each other.

Considering the demands of the senior living communities, elders are in a great need of the nutrition that proactively fulfills their bodily needs. For elders, it is more than just a meal. This is the reason why the assisted living facilities duly focus on preparing their menu and follow it only after consulting the dietitians.

Ideally, the menu plan contains a variety of ingredients that not only meet the nutritional needs of the resident but also make delicious dishes while making the whole dining experience very pleasant. The general factors such as the reduced ability of taste, the side-effects of medications, change in the digestion and appetite patterns also need to be considered while preparing the diet charts. The additional factors including the cultural and social preferences of the food.

This is a complex process and the assisted living facilities follow a step by step guide while plotting the menu for the elders. Here are few consideration they take in while preparing the best food options for seniors.

1. Personalized Menu

• Personalizing the dining experience at the assisted living facilities is a very important aspect for a healthy aging experience.
• In the ideal assisted living communities, the chef and the serving staff inquire about the food and they consider the feedback of the residents to improve the quality of food.
• There will be interactive sessions between the chef and the housemates to clear any concerns or feedback.
• It is common to see a few residents with food restrictions due to their health conditions. The food needs to be prepared based on these restrictions for these elders.

2. Menu Reviewed by Nutrients

• The menu at the assisted living facilities is vetted by the nutrients who are experienced in geriatrics.
• The orchestration of menu at the senior community living centers by no means prepare food on ad hoc process. The ingredients and the dishes are planned well in advance.
• The nutrients check the nutritional values such as vitamin quotient, healthy fats, minerals and carbohydrates while ensuring that the food is meeting all the requirements of the elders.

3. Flexible Dining Options

• Not all the seniors in the community will have the same dining needs and requirements.
• The option of flexible dining will let the seniors accommodate themselves to a particular dining schedule rather than following a time that does not cope with their needs.
• The assisted living facilities also provide snacks and other eateries between the meals just to ensure that seniors are not low on their energy levels.

4. Food on Special Events

• Assisted living communities in India, especially in the culturally rich regions such as Chennai, follow a unique diet plan for the special events.
• These days allow the elders to enjoy the meals and snacks prepared in the authentic traditional ways.
• During the special days, food becomes more than just a bodily need. It becomes the reason for social gathering within the community to experience the essence of the cultural event.

Assisted Living Facilities serve more than just the accommodating havens for the elderly. They take care of the elders dining, living and well-being needs while providing advanced living solutions for the elderly.

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Assisted LivingLifeStyle

Engaging Residents in Volunteering to Add Value to Senior Health

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Do you know which is the greatest joy? It is the joy of giving. “Giving” here does not imply charity but the giving of love, help and support. And elders are the people who both give and receive love the most.

Have you watched elders in senior living communities?  Look at the 80+ man who is tottering by himself. Yet when he lends a hand to his infirm friend to get up from his chair, watch the glow of life light up his eyes! It is this inner happiness of helping that keeps elders going strong in their autumn years.

It is this tendency of helping others that form the basis of volunteering. Healthy elders in senior independent living homes are motivated to become volunteers in order to give them a sense of purpose and fulfillment in life.

Why should elders be motivated to be volunteers in senior homes?

Elders who are physically fit can be motivated to become volunteers in senior homes as it helps them

  1. To be happy

The “Happiness Trifecta” is a group of hormones that keep everyone, especially the elders going. This group of 3 hormones- Serotonin, Dopamine and Oxytocin- works wonders for the elderly. Serotonin induces sleep, Dopamine keeps you motivated, and Oxytocin increases bonding.

Elders who volunteer at assisted living facilities experience a gush of these 3 happiness hormones. Volunteering is an act of love and bonding which induces oxytocin release. This act of helping gives them a motivation for bringing on dopamine secretion. Finally, a sense of satisfaction pervades inducing serotonin and sleep. In short, elders who volunteer in assisted living facilities  are the happiest.

  1. To be healthy

Elders who volunteer in senior homes are often the busiest. They need to move around, stretch their limbs, be alert and use all their mental and physical faculties. In short, volunteering involves physical exercise which elders do without even realizing it. Volunteering seniors remain physically fit and healthy without medicines.

  1. To drive away age-related diseases

Old age brings on a bout of diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol etc. All of these can be drastically reduced by shedding at least 5-7 kilos of body weight. All the moving around that the elder does while volunteering helps them lose weight unknowingly and thereby keeps diseases at bay.

  1. To keep their mind alert

When elders volunteer, their dopamine levels shoot up as they are motivated. A strong surge of dopamine is enough to keep the senior mentally alert and agile, driving old-age diseases like Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s away.

  1. To be socially connected

Old age brings on loneliness and isolation. Participating in volunteering activities helps elders to shed their inhibitions and interact with their peers, thus driving away depression and isolation. Volunteers in senior homes mingle with a lot of people, exchange experiences and remain socially connected and convivial.

  1. To live longer

A research by the University of Michigan scholars reveals that elders who spent 40 hours a year volunteering had 40 % more chances of living longer.

  1. To connect with the community

Elderly volunteers in senior homes act as the liaison between the elders and the outside community. They help the staff and visitors to interact with the elders and form a bridge for their communication. Residents at assisted living facilities can relate to the volunteer residents with their problems more easily. Geriatric problems like dementia and Alzheimer’s are better understand by volunteer residents who serve such patients and they effectively communicate this to the outside world.

Volunteering is thus vital for good health and longevity in elders in senior homes. An understanding assisted living facility realizes the value of volunteering in making the elders’ lives more meaningful and puts it to best use.

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Assisted LivingLifeStyle

Building Relationship in Later Years

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Emotions are the strings that are attached to your heart and health. Yes, physical health is governed by emotional well-being and mental balance and this is more so in the case of elders. Geriatric citizens feel the need for long-term relationships, bonding and togetherness. At old age, seniors crave for companionship with like-minded friends and wish to partake their experiences and exchange views and feelings. They want the joy of new company while nestled in the comfort of caring ones. This is best experienced in senior living communities.

Need for building relationships in later years

When elders are past their retirement age, they suddenly find themselves alone as their kids move out and settle separately on account of their career or education. This is the time when they feel a need to nurture new relationships. Building new relationships in later years is very vital  for elders because

  • Elders should not be isolated or left alone as this leads to depression and anxiety.
  • Staying happy is vital for healthy ageing and that comes only by being surrounded by the right company
  • An active social life helps the aged to remain physically fit and emotionally well-balanced.
  • Socially active seniors are less susceptible to cardiac diseases, arthritis or osteoporosis.
  • Maintaining friendships and being socially active sharpens the mind of elders and keeps them away from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia.

Senior living communities provide the best environ to build healthy relationships in the later years.

Building relationships in later years through assisted living facilities

As they age, elders seldom find opportunities to interact with new people. Yet socializing is very vital for their healthy living.  So how to provide the right forum for elders to interact, socialize and be cared in spite of their health disabilities? The answer lies in assisted living facilities.

  • Moving beyond the objective of providing mere elderly care and assistance, Assisted Living facilities offer a community for conviviality, companionship and camaraderie. Their philosophy is relationship-centered and based on providing emotional support to elders by enhancing their social activity through team activities.
  • No elder is ever left alone and isolated at senior living communities. These communities offer a “family’ atmosphere for elders with their staff and caretakers enjoying a good rapport with the residents. Seniors are encouraged to participate in outdoor activities and mingle with fellow inmates.
  • Activities at assisted living facilities are contrived to make the elders open up and mingle with others. Reading newspapers, playing chess, going for strolls, performing yoga, group meditation – all these activities are planned to make the elder never feel alone.
  • For energetic elders, Assisted living communities offer great opportunities to participate in simple outdoor activities like nature walks, gardening, badminton, aerobics, playing Frisbee or softball etc. Such kind of group activities help seniors to alleviate stress and relax themselves. These outdoor activities also help them to remain physically fit and emotionally happy.
  • For slightly disabled seniors, group activities like card games, chess, scrabble or carom board are encouraged. Music and film shows are also arranged by Assisted living communities to help them find solace to their souls.
  • Sometimes, fate takes a toll on the lives of elders. They lose their life partner and are in distress. Such people are in dire need of love, care and company. Assisted Living facilities provide them with an opportunity to make new meaningful friendships among fellow inmates and forge new bonds.

For seniors who have come full circle in life after completing their duties, a new lease of life should be provided by helping them build new relationships in their later years. Assisted Living offers long-term care facilities through care and companionship with complete commitment.

 

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