What can you expect in the way of delicious meals, expertly prepared, using fresh ingredients, top quality meat, fish and poultry, fresh fruits and vegetables? Or should you expect institutional cooking on a par with or above or below most hospitals and college dormitories?

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BU, you can expect food to vary facility to facility.

My dad was in 3 facilities, 1 had school food meals from the 70s, it was awful. 1 had restaurant dining, you ordered what you wanted and it was freshly prepared, it was amazing. Then the last one was a small facility that did family style meals, it was good, just no choices if what they fixed wasn't to your liking.

Most facilities will let you come in and have a meal in their dining room. I recommend doing that. The place that had restaurant dining charged $6 if you bought a voucher from the business office, this allowed you to dine with your loved one.

Seeing and eating is the only way to know what the food is like.
Helpful Answer (8)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal

You'll have to try the meals at each place. My dad is in a rental style assisted living and it has a lovely dining room - white table clothes, wait staff, you can order wine and beer with dinner, etc. The food is good, some meals better than others, and every time there is a change of chef the food changes a bit. My dad was an excellent cook and did all the meal preparation in our family and he doesn't complain about the food but you have to realize that it will never be like your family recipes.
Helpful Answer (7)
Reply to jkm999

My cousins bought into a very high end senior living community where they paid $450k plus $4k a month for rent for a 2 bed 2 bath unit (brand new) in independent living. This is a continuum of care community that will keep them until death, moving them into each level of care facility as needed, and they will pay the appropriate rate for each until they run out of money and that $450k buy in is also used up. Then the care is free. That said, they also pay extra for the food plan which includes top notch on grounds restaurants with food like you mention. The food is "free" once you pay for the food plan. So they eat like kings but pay like kings for the privilege of doing so, if you get my drift.

My parents lived in a corporate owned (Brookdale) AL and the food was slop. Their rent was constantly being increased bc corporate facilities look to do just that: nickel and dime the residents to death while cutting corners via quality control. Food is a big quality control area in which to do so. I moved them out of there and into a privately owned AL where the rent was lower and stayed the same. The food was a much higher quality but not as you described bc frankly, that's a bit of a reach in my experience with managed care facilities in general. Their AL had better than average food with a large menu choice and no limit on what you could order. I ate there many times and enjoyed the food. When they put on buffets for holidays, they were always outstanding, same with sit down meals for events. The chef was very good. Michelin trained? Nope. Just keeping it real, as should you.

SNF was inedible entirely, the other mom was in for rehab was pretty decent, the Lifecare dad was in for rehab was mediocre at best. Hospital food describes it.

You'd have to go try the food at these places yourself to get a peek at what a meal looks like. Breakfast is usually the best, imo. Some meals are great, some are awful. Keep a realistic outlook is my suggestion, and expect A LOT OF COMPLAINING from the senior. It's the law. And also it depends on what you mean by "senior housing" as there are TONS of different types out there nowadays.
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Reply to lealonnie1

I’ve been in Three NH’s. One had terrible food. The other two were pretty good and you Picked from a couple of options. Facilities that are cheaper and have Medicaid needs seem to not have good food. Medicaid reimbursements are so low they have to cut corners where they can. If I have go again I will not go to one that accepts Medicaid.
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Reply to Becky04469

BU4691, when you say buy-in senior housing, do you mean the 55+ apartments, some over 2,000 sqft, where one pays full price up-front for the unit, and when one passes the amount paid for the apartment, minus a small percentage, goes to the heirs? Those apartments all have full size kitchens and dining rooms where one makes their own meals. Or they can visit one of many in-house restaurants Some places include one meal a week or day as part of the Homeowners Association fee.

My Dad had a medium size apartment at a well known chain where he paid $5k per month for rent. He had a full size kitchen, and he was able to have supper in the menu styled restaurant. The meals were excellent.

My Mom was in her final months at a local nursing home. Sadly those meals didn't look very appetizing.

As mentioned earlier here, you can tour the facilities, and most of them offer you lunch as part of the tour.
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Reply to freqflyer

Definitely take the food quality in consideration when looking for a facility but do not be disappointed if your loved one begins to complain later no matter how much you research, compare facilities and are impressed with the quality.

What it boils down to, most people... even myself, tire of the meal environment they have day after day and nothing seems to appeal. When my father was in an AL then the NH at the same facility, we enjoyed having meals with him because the choices were very good. To hear my father talk, after he had been there a while, they didn't offer any thing decent to eat.

A good example is when I worked in the admissions office at a small private Christian Middle/High School with day and boarding students. Our food service was always raved about because students got unlimited servings from a hot bar, salad bar, dessert bar, beverage bar and even a sandwich bar where you could make your own simple peanut butter sandwich. I often heard feedback from parents how pleased their children were at the variety and quality of lunch compared to the school they had moved from. Meals were included in the tuition and outside food was not allowed except for a few students with extreme allergies. Months later, some parents would begin asking special permission to bring lunches for their children from fast food places because their children no longer were pleased with the food provided.

Often aging and certain conditions can affect taste and smell so I am sure in many cases the food does begin to be less appealing as time goes on especially with seniors.

A funny story from my time at the school... there was a very sweet boy who just never took responsibility for his homework, etc. As a discipline, the principal required him to spend his lunch period in my office doing his work and a lunch was provided for him. After a while his mom told us he had said it wasn't so bad because he was getting a "teacher's lunch" and it was better! We told her, there is no such thing as a teachers lunch, the lunch lady was putting his lunch together from the same selections... a sweet lady who wanted to be nice to this poor boy in detention! We had to tell her to stop being so nice and provide a lunch with simple sandwich, sides and dessert. It wasn't long he began taking the discipline serious! So, most complaints are because of prejudices and perspectives of the food put in front of us.
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Reply to KPWCSC

It is very important to have access to healthy, nutritious food service, however many seniors can fervently stick to their habits of eating in spite of family’s best intentions. My mother from 92 to 100 stuck to a diet of hot cocoa and doughnuts for breakfast. Barely eating anything else. Constant bowel issues prunes, extra water, Miralax, “name it-we tried it”, etc. She vehemently refused any type
of vegetable option 🥗 that would have made her life (and mine) easier.
Helpful Answer (2)
Reply to GAinPA

What you can expect is what you get when, on visiting the facilities, you ask to attend a lunch and a dinner and eat the food served. You can expect what the facility promises you on intake visits. You are looking basically at institutional cooking.
When my bro chose his ALF in Palm Springs there was one that had a pool and had what they called fine dining. Visits with residents showed they loved the food. What they didn't have was what the OTHER facility had in terms of beautiful grounds to walk on, and some other perks. So while one place may concentrate on one thing, another has other perks and it simply is a matter of choosing, if you are so luck as to HAVE a choice, what matters most.
Ask to go to dinner and lunch. It will tell you a lot.
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Reply to AlvaDeer

Most facilities have nutritionists and professional kitchen staffs. There are usually fresh salads and fruit cups, but don't expect fresh everything. Some of the food is going to be institutional if the facility is large. Most facilities (even hospitals) offer a menu and residents can choose what they want off the menu. If a resident has special food requirements (low salt, low cholesterol, kosher, halal, vegetarian or vegan, etc.) they should ask if this is accommodated at the facility.
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to NancyIS

I'm starting to think smaller, more intimate senior facilities might be happier places all around; guessing the facilities wouldn't be fancy unless premium pricing pays for it, but caretakers might have better relationships with their patients if the numbers are low. They might look for local chefs who know how to shop so that better meals can be prepared by people who like to cook (maybe even old family recipes)?
Helpful Answer (1)
Reply to ConnieCaretaker

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