Promoting Nutritional Wellness for Seniors

chef hands preparing meal

[Updated: February 23, 2021 | Published: February 23, 2021]

Nutritional wellness is top of mind for many Columbus seniors. It’s a key part of any vibrant, healthy lifestyle.

nutritious meal of steak, broccoli and potato with wineAlthough eating well supports healthy living at any age, nutritional needs change as we grow older. As a result, many seniors may need help in adjusting their eating habits.

At Friendship Village of Dublin, nutritional wellness is one of nine dimensions of wellness we call The Village Way.

Registered Dietitian Kristen Mathias plans nutritious menus with lots of options, and the chefs on our culinary team serve up restaurant-quality meals to tempt every appetite.

Read on as we explore how our approach to nutritional wellness helps residents live their best lives at every age.

Nutritional Wellness Needs Change with Age

Our bodies are continually changing as we age, and nutritional needs change along with them.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the need for certain vitamins and minerals, including calcium, vitamin D, and vitamins B6 and B12, increases after age 50.

Caloric needs also decrease with age. Since older adults move less and carry less muscle, they may need fewer calories to maintain their weight.

Seniors can increase their nutritional wellness by eating a balanced diet including fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean proteins. Yet, wellness also must take personal tastes and eating preferences into consideration.

“Nutritional wellness takes some self-awareness,” Kristen said. “For example, sometimes I ask residents if they have had an appetite change and some people don’t even notice although they may have had a 20-pound weight loss or gain.”

Kristen is available to meet with residents who want to develop an eating plan to address weight loss or other nutritional needs.

Flexible Menus and Meal Plans Support Nutritional Wellness

salad and hamburger with home fries with wineDietitian Kristen Mathias coordinates delicious and nutritious menus for residents of our Independent Living, Waterford Assisted Living and Health Center neighborhoods.

Under Kristen’s direction, flexible meals for residents in Independent Living allow them to enjoy food that fits their personal preferences.

“What we want is to give you choice,” she said. “We don’t want any of our residents to feel that they have to eat one certain way.”

She said she sees two strong schools of thought among Independent Living residents.

“One school favors traditional, meat-and-potato options,” she said. “The other wants new and healthier options like lean proteins and leafy green vegetables.”

Friendship Village of Dublin caters to both groups with menus that support nutritional needs. Chef-prepared meals tempt the palate with a wide variety of choices.

“All of our menus include vegetarian, low sodium, gluten-free, heart-healthy, low-carbohydrate and other options for residents with specific dietary needs,” Kristen said. “Residents request their preferred option when they order.”

We asked several residents what they like about the food at Friendship Village of Dublin. Watch the video below to learn what Lois M., Ann S, Linda B. and Elvira E. had to say about their favorite meals prepared by the chefs in our culinary department.

Nutritional Wellness for Assisted Living and Health Center Residents

Kristen emphasized that residents with cognitive decline or specific health conditions may need a more rigid approach to nutritional wellness.

As a result, residents in our Waterford Assisted Living and Health Center neighborhoods have specific eating plans.

“While we adapt menus on request in Independent Living, we keep detailed records in Waterford and the Health Center and serve meals that support optimal wellness for each person’s condition,” Kristen said.

She noted that loss of taste and smell are a normal part of the aging process. As a result, some residents who need memory care lose interest in food.

To prevent unanticipated weight loss, Kristen’s team monitors the weight of Assisted Living and Health Center residents.

“By catching weight loss early, we can take actions to halt or remediate their weight loss,” she said. “We look at things like chewing and swallowing or perform an evaluation to see if depression is an issue, then make a plan to address the issue behind the weight loss.”

For example, someone having trouble chewing or swallowing may need modified diet textures. “They would still receive the foods that are offered on the regular menu, but we would modify the foods making them easier eat,” Kristen said.

Expanding Future Options

As we all fought to stay healthy during the COVID-19 pandemic, senior living communities had to limit dining options. At Friendship Village of Dublin, we delivered meals to residents, who dined inside their apartments.

al fresco diningBecause breaking bread together is an important element of social wellness, during warmer weather we introduced socially distanced alfresco dining in our Legacy Courtyard.

In the meantime, we worked with environmental hygienists to adjust internal ventilation, allowing us to gradually reopen our Legacy at Scioto and Riverwalk Dining Rooms, River’s Edge Café and The Village Bistro.

“Once we have reopened all of our dining venues, each will offer a different menu and experience,” Kristen said. “This allows our Independent Living residents even greater choice. They can still call and have meals delivered to their doors, enjoy fine dining and table service or pick up a sandwich or salad to go.”

Looking ahead, Kristen said the culinary team is introducing new recipes prepared on site using fresh ingredients.

“We’re excited to reopen and offer all the choices we traditional have – and introduce some new options!” she concluded.

Learn About Dining The Village Way!

plate of pasta with asparagus and wineThere’s so much more to dining at Friendship Village of Dublin than we can fit into a short blog post.

Why not explore our premier senior living community for yourself?

We invite you to schedule a safe, socially distanced visit to learn about all we offer!

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