How to Improve the Dining Experience for Seniors

How to Improve the Dining Experience for Seniors

User Profile By Haley Burress   United States

Found In: Activities Articles

Nutrition can get a bit tricky with age-related complications and conditions. Discover best practices to improve the dining experience for your residents.

Eating is not only an important health activity, it is also a social event. Challenges associated with aging such as dementia and arthritis can make eating more difficult. This can lead to serious health complications and reduced quality-of-life.

In this article we cover:

  • Why Dining Becomes Difficult
  • Consequences of Eating Challenges
  • Best Practices in the Dining Room
  • Tips for Adapting the Dining Experience
  • Serving Food During Activities


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Kaye 28th Nov 2019 Activities Assistant
Hi Deb,

I like what you are offering with your Lunch Club.

I noted that you use 'bibs'. I wonder if you would consider calling them 'clothes protectors'? This is more adult and is also truthful. I think it is a great idea for you to put on a clothes protector first to normalise the practice. Perhaps you could have different/pretty designs/colors...

Good luck with your lunch club!

Kaye (Activities worker in Melbourne, Australia)
Haley 21st Nov 2019 Recreation Therapist And Writer
I love this, Debs - thank you for advocating for your residents and creating a better experience for them!
Debs 29th Nov 2019 Activity Coordinator
HI thanks for your comment regarding 'clothes protectors'; I had a discussion with my manager on this and we have switched to cotton napkins in a sunny yellow, which I then just tuck lightly into their clothing over their chest area. The home have got behind my mad scheme too, which is wonderful - it makes such a massive difference not just to the residents but also to the staff and visitors. The night staff now set the table for us coming in on Wednesday and one of our staff is a master napkin folder - we had 'yellow roses' to adorn their wine glasses! Now even the residents who said they didn't want anything to do with it are clamoring for a place at the table and we've only just completed week 3!! I have to keep a register in order to make it fair.
Love the tips on colour too...thank you for sharing. Onwards and upwards!
Leeanne 19th Nov 2019 Activities Coordinator
Fantastic , I also read in a recent study that by using red plates it help people with dementia as they can see the food better because white isnt a good colour as we know . Most plates are white
Haley 21st Nov 2019 Recreation Therapist And Writer
Contrasting colors tend to improve the dining experience, but they can also be used elsewhere in the community, Leeanne. I've been known to use contrasting bath mats to make a resident's toilet easier to see!
Debs 19th Nov 2019 Activity Coordinator
This is wonderful: I didn't know about the scents and stimulation it has on eating. I have just started 'Lunch Club' in my care setting - because I felt it was pretty awful the way things were done (all sitting around the room with their little tables, not talking).
I have a small group sit around a table which the wheelchairs can fit under, with a pretty table cloth and centre piece. Food is served from our trolley - each resident pre-orders and some residents have pureed food. Everyone has to wear a bib - I think I'll wear one next time to help normalise this. It's early days, but the 6 ladies that came enjoyed it and would be happy to come again. We only do this once a week...but if there is more demand, I'm hoping the carers will see the value and our manager, and help make this happen for different social groups more often. OR maybe once a week is enough...watch this space!
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