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HORIZON HOME CARE BLOG

When Live-In Facilities Have Lousy Food Options

Question: 

My mother is in an assisted living facility, and the food is horrible. It is not nutritious, and I cannot believe they expect residents to eat such food. It is loaded with carbohydrates and fat, lacking vegetables and fruit. This is not the way my mother was raised. What is a daughter to do in this situation? What is the best way for me to approach the subject with the facility? I do not want to create conflict, but my mother is very disappointed. How do I approach this situation?
 

Answer:

What you do is collect data before taking any action or making any accusations. It would be quite surprising to find out that a regulated facility was not providing its residents adequate nutrition based on reasonable guidelines.

Grab one of their menus for the week. Facilities almost always publish their menu for the residents to have. That menu will usually spell out every item in the three daily meals being served. Compare the menu to generally accepted dietary guidelines. One site that can assist you is the United States Department of Agriculture, https://www.choosemyplate.gov/dietary-guidelines. This site seems to be a fairly good reference for diet by age group. Count the number of servings in each category based on the menus you have collected. I suspect you will find that the offerings are balanced.

You should also personally try some of the food to see if you agree with your mother. Do not expect it to taste like your family’s tried and true recipes; it will not. You are looking for quality and adequate quantity.

I suspect your mother is being served a bland and soft diet. Those with teeth issues, those who do not like spices, and those that have difficulty cutting or swallowing are more easily accommodated with the type of food that is likely being served. This may be the majority of residents in any assisted living facility.

It is perfectly okay to ask the dietitian to spice it up a bit for mother. You do not risk offending as much if you approach it with a smile and a simple request. Another option is to bring in fresh fruit, spices, or nuts for your mother to enhance her diet choices. Most people would balk at doing this, though children bring treats for their parents all the time. You would simply be bringing healthy ones instead of candy and cookies like most do.

If you are unable to resolve the food issue with the dietary staff over time, I would speak with the administrator and start looking for a facility that has better food. Lousy food can make for an unhappy mother. Realize that food quality changes from time to time in facilities depending on the cook, so it could improve or worsen over time with the turnover in staff. The commitment to good food does come from the top, so have a conversation with the leader if necessary.

I wish you the best.

 

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