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Boost Nutrition: 3 Innovative Tips
Getting seniors to eat a balanced diet can be difficult.  Many seniors have undergone changes in their appetites due to medications or the normal processes of aging. Issues such as tooth loss or a decreased ability to taste can also cause residents to eat less.  Malnourishment is a common problem among seniors. In fact, according to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), up to 85 percent of residents are malnourished. To encourage your seniors to eat well, try incorporating the following nutrition tips in developing your menus.

Incorporate Homemade Foods 
Assembly-line production of frozen or pre-packaged foods can make for cost-effective menus. But institutional-style meals are often far from appetizing, and they lack the flavor and appeal of homemade foods.  Like all of us, seniors appreciate home-cooked meals.  Anything that is made from scratch just seems to have a special touch, and care home residents can certainly tell the difference. Making completely homemade meals may not always be possible, particularly for larger senior care facilities, but moving away from the institutional approach and incorporating even a few from-scratch foods will help increase residents’ interest in eating.

Use Local and Regional Foods in Menus
Most of your residents likely come from the regional area.  They may remember eating sweet corn from a local farm or picking apples at a certain orchard. Or, they may recall enjoying specialty foods from the surrounding area. Why not incorporate some of these local foods on your menus? Using ingredients from your region can spark the attention of your senior care residents and they’ll be excited to taste the local flavors. Feature these ingredients as often as possible, and consider placing signs and photos of locally-sourced foods to make the seniors aware of these special treats.

Consider a Flexible Dining Schedule for Residents
Do you eat dinner at the same time as everyone else who lives on your street? Probably not. Yet many senior care facilities are rigid about dining times and provide meals on a tight schedule, requiring all residents to eat at the same time, whether or not that’s when they are hungry. Research indicates that residents are happier and more satisfied with their communities when a flexible dining schedule is offered. All-day dining isn’t necessary; seniors simply prefer having a choice. So, consider menus with staggered dining services to give residents the opportunity to eat meals when they are ready. 

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