Top Dining Trends in Los Angeles Senior Living
Sarah OrdoverJul 10th, 2023
Top Trends in Senior Living Dining
As we baby boomers age and with the adoption of a more “foodie” culture, dining options in senior living communities are changing.
Most still follow the traditional formula developed in the 1980s of three meals a day provided during set mealtimes: Breakfast until 9:00, lunch from 11-1:00, and dinner from 4:30-6:00 PM. While most assisted living communities have switched to restaurant-style dining with a full menu and table-side waiter service, some still favor the older style of food service: a "special" with a couple of alternate menu items.
Tastes are changing and the standard that has worked for the past few decades is becoming outdated. This being Los Angeles, even adults on the older side of the senior scale, are often sophisticated enough to want greater variety.
Here are some of our favorite innovations in senior living dining. It's a representative sample, not an exhaustive list. If you’d like to find out more about who is doing what, feel free to reach out to us.
1. All-Day Dining
All-day dining is the most prevalent new trend in senior living dining, embraced by more and more communities. With all-day dining, the restaurant is open all day – usually from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM. The full menu may not be available all day, generally, specials are served during set hours. But, in between, a diner can come to the dining room and get a prepared meal at any time throughout the day, whatever is on the set menu. This is particularly important to those who like to sleep late, have a doctor’s appointment, or want the option to mix it up.
One of the first to implement all-day dining is the Senior Resources Group, operators of The Village at Northridge and The Village at Sherman Oaks. Others that offer all-day dining options include Nazareth House in Cheviot Hills, Ivy Park Culver City, Oakmont Torrance, the Watermark in Westwood and the Variel in Woodland Hills.
2. Grab and Go or Café Options
Sometimes you just don’t feel like sitting down in the dining room. You want to grab something to take back to your room or simply sit in a less formal space. The Belmont in Westwood and The Variel in Woodland Hills have full-blown cafés resembling Starbucks. You can eat there or grab a light to-go option. Pictured here is Belmont Westwood's all-day cafe.
3. Healthier Food
One of the most significant trends in senior living dining is the shift toward healthier food options. As seniors become more health-conscious, they look for nutritious, flavorful meals that are low in sodium and sugar and high in fiber and protein.
Communities like Welbrook Memory Care in Santa Monica, Ivy Park Burbank, and the Belmont Village communities are doing a good job of incorporating fresh fruits, vegetables (sometimes grown in their own gardens and gathered by residents), and whole grains into their meals. Their culinary teams are incorporating more vegetarian and heart-healthy items into their menus. The grab-and-go station at Ivy Park in Burbank offers residents yummy-looking containers of fresh fruit, hummus, and vegetables and dip, available all day in their café refrigerator case.
4. Multiple Dining Venues
Imagine if you had to eat every meal in the same place every day. Sheesh, it would get boring. Senior living communities such as Oakmont of Torrance and The Variel have a restaurant and a tavern, each with a different menu. They both also offer excellent outdoor dining areas. Depicted above is the tavern at The Variel of Woodland Hills.
The best outdoor dining venue is The Watermark in Westwood, whose dining room opens out onto a lovely courtyard with plenty of tables for grabbing a bite and enjoying the sunshine.
Some communities that have only one dining space are turning to pop-up events to add variety. A pop-up dining experience can be held in many ways. This temporary dining event can showcase chefs and the culinary team as they prepare unique meals that are not on the regular menu. Pop-up-style dining can also involve food truck offerings or other mobile food services. We’ve seen Silverado Beverly Place do a particularly good job of changing things up by hosting barbecues on their patios and inviting in specialty food vendors. Here's a shot of a recent In-N-Out Burger food truck event. Even Sweet Home Senior Living in Van Nuys, one of our favorite board and care homes, switches it up, hosting weekly barbecues for residents in their outdoor kitchen.
Dining is an important consideration in choosing a senior living community. The food, the ambiance, and the creativity of the food service team can make or break the senior living experience. At Assisted Living Locators, we look very closely at a facility’s commitment to its food service program since it plays an essential role in a resident’s satisfaction. We are happy to help you analyze the different dining programs that are available and make sure we find the best match for your loved one.
Assisted Living Locators Los Angeles owner Sarah Ordover is one of LA’s top senior living advisors. Certified in dementia care, Sarah is a trained aging specialist who holds an RCFE assisted living administrators license. Sarah thoughtfully guides families through the senior living decision-making process, helping them find the best solution for their loved ones. Call Sarah at 310-853-8282 for a consultation. Assisted Living Locators is free to clients.