As we prepare to give thanks and gather around the table…I remember. I remember that it was just last Thanksgiving that we experienced a “first” in our community. It was the first time that all 16 of our residents were out with family at the EXACT same time. It was a strange feeling for the folks that were working that day. I remember them calling to tell me about it. Oh, there is always plenty to be done and the staff was happy for the residents to be spending quality time with family and loved ones. It was just a new first for our community. What about you? Is this the first year that you will be planning Thanksgiving after having moved a loved one into an assisted living? Are you concerned with all the preparation and worried about the visit? Here are a few tips to help you stress less and enjoy Thanksgiving with your elderly loved ones.
Schedules and Timing
As much as you don’t want to plan out every little detail, you do want to give it some thought. Remember that if they are residing in an assisted living they may now be accustomed to a more structured routine. You will want to check with the staff regarding medications and proper protocol. You want to be sure to keep everything on track.
Food and Options
Our residents live very active and independent lifestyles. They enjoy making their own choices and directing their care. But it is important to consider their dietary needs. Be mindful of food options. Remember if Mom doesn’t need the extra salt or Dad needs alternative dessert options.
One of the most common comments I hear from families is that they are shocked when not long after eating ….the elderly loved one is ready to go back to their community (new home). Now naturally this makes an administrator very happy that a resident has come to feel comfortable in their community. But don’t let it make you feel down. Remember they have gotten on their own time schedule. They are enjoying your company, but like many people after a gathering may need some rest.
As with all time together…just enjoy. Make it special but don’t put too much pressure on your family member or yourself (for that matter) to meet unrealistic expectations. Incorporate them into the conversation. Maybe call ahead of time and get their special recipe for a favorite dish. Spend time talking, relating and making treasured memories. Savor these moments together and you ALL will come away from the gathering feeling grateful.
The other day I had one of those moments. You know…those times when you are becoming exactly like your mother, grandmother, father, etc. We were out to eat and I said to my husband that I wished I could order off the “kids menu” because I wasn’t that hungry and it was cheaper. It was like I had instantly become my grandmother. The memories came flooding back. How many times had I heard her ask a server if they had a “child’s plate” she could order? I was always embarrassed and never quite understood her frugality. Now as an adult I get it. Especially for those who are in the age bracket who qualify for a senior discount…pinching pennies is important. So, in memory of my grandmother (who we affectionately called Mama Clifford), here is a guide to some popular restaurants that feature savings for seniors. These are only some of the eateries that offer discounts and with all promotions it may vary by location. But save where you can and as Benjamin Franklin would say, “a penny saved is a penny earned.”
Applebee’s Senior Discount: 10-15% off (varies by location) MAY require Golden Apple Card (60+)
Bonefish Grill Senior Discount: AARP members 10% off
Burger King Senior Discount: 10% off (60+) plus additional discounts on coffee and soft drinks
Captain D’s Seafood: “Happy Wednesday Offer” Choice of 8 meals + drink for $4.99 or less- varies by loc. (62+)
Chick-fil-A Senior Discounts: Chick-fil-A offers a free refillable senior drink, not including coffee. – Varies by location.
Chili’s Restaurants Senior Discounts: Chili’s offers a 10% senior discount (55+)
Denny’s: Senior discount varies by location, 15% off for AARP members
McDonald’s: Discounts on coffee everyday (55+)
Outback Steakhouse: 10% off AARP members for meals (alcohol excluded)
Sonic: 10% off or free beverage (60+) varies by location
Subway: 10% off (60+) varies by location
Taco Bell: 5% off; free beverages for seniors (65+)
TCBY: 10% off (55+)
I guess it never really dawned on me until I starting working in the senior living industry that just as our hearing and eyesight are impacted as we age…so are our taste buds. SERIOUSLY!! Those go away?? Well, that is just fabulous, right? Now don’t go thinking all is lost! But believe me when I say that there is a GREAT DEAL of time and energy that is spent in planning meals for Assisted Living Communities. And what is on the plate is not what you would expect! We are not talking cafeteria style boredom. Sure it may be difficult to appeal to a crowd of differing tastes and disappearing taste buds. It can be a tall order! But we have more than one approach to take on the task. While bearing in mind that Assisted Living residents are given a type of diet that their physician suggests…but remembering that the resident is the captain of their own ship. They have resident rights to direct their care and this includes their nutrition. Our job is to do our novel best to offer food to meet their dietary needs. It is also helpful to know that ALF communities have regulations in place that cover food from everything from receiving and storing to cooking and serving. By following these best practices, we can offer safe, delicious and nutritious meals. Here are some ways we aim to please.
- Always Available Menus. So today is Taco Tuesday and Mexican food doesn’t agree with you? No problem! In our communities, we offer Always Available Menus that will give you options that are designed to please. With a little head’s up, the dietary staff can make sure that your mealtime doesn’t go South of the border.
- Menus that change with the Season. Guided by our Dietitian Consultant, we create menu suggestions that offer variety and nutrition to attempt to appeal to any palate.
- Another approach that we have incorporated is resident suggestion! Got a great recipe for your favorite dessert? Then we want to hear about it! We will do our best to submit it for approval to add to our menu. From the beginning intake process, we do our best to find out what you like and what you don’t like when it comes to food. No two tastes will be the same. But by treating everyone as an individual, it helps set the situation up for success.
Check out our menus at http://www.greatoaksmanagement.com