What Are The Trends In Senior Living Dining

What Are The Trends In Senior Living Dining?

What is your Residential Assisted Living kitchen staff preparing to accommodate the Silver Tsunami of baby boomers?

What are you feeding your residents in your assisted living home? Fresh food is a smoking hot trending topic in America, and seniors are buying into the conversation. It’s time to serve assisted living seniors something healthy to chew on. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner in Residential Assisted Living homes are evolving into a complete culinary experience. These culinary chefs are driving higher profits to assisted living homes.

The current trend is spiraling upward from the demands of baby boomers that are changing senior housing food service programs. In order to satisfy the affluent food expectations of this generation, Residential Assisted Living homes are customizing new trends to appeal to baby boomers and others.


  1. An Increased Focus on Variety and Healthy Options
  2. A Dining Experience
  3. A Social Atmosphere with Fine Food
  4. Comfortable Unstructured Dining Areas For Family and Friends 
  5. Fresh Snacks and Food Available Any Time
  6. Strong Interest in Locally Sourced Food

Residential Assisted Living homes are maximizing their meals to give seniors the experiences they are looking for. These modern trends are setting a higher standard of living in Residential Assisted Living homes. As a result, senior living dining trends are impacting the market.

Trend #1.

An Increased Focus on Variety and Healthy Options

Residential Assisted Living homes are currently undergoing the challenge of satisfying seniors who demand healthier meals. Baby boomers, in particular, require meals that are natural, without GMOs, and prepared with healthy ingredients. They’ve also experienced a lifetime of having a variety of options in everything. As a result, baby boomers are interested in restaurant-inspired meals that often require added culinary experience. Foodservice management companies must have inspiring menus that involve international cuisine, vegetarian meals, gluten-free options, vegan menus, branded items, a variety of flavors and colors, and more.

Fresh food, fresh coffee, fresh baked goods are important to today’s seniors – fresh is the keyword in the kitchen. This is why many Residential Assisted Living homes are hiring chefs to accommodate multiple choices and provide a variety of options. Residents are in search of meaningful meal substitutions and alternate menu items. The modern senior living kitchen has to operate similar to a restaurant to satisfy a host of senior customers. When residents do not like the daily option on the menu, chefs will need to be prepared to cook alternative meals, based on what is available. Hence, stocking an abundance of nutritious food choices is important.

Trend #2.

A Dining Experience

Do you offer buffets, exhibition cooking, casual dining, formal dining, and restaurant-style menus? If not, you might want to consider what these dining experiences mean in a competitive market. Baby boomers don’t seem to surrender to the three-times-a-day meal concept. They demand flexible dining, a variety of options, including healthy choices, entertainment and something unique. For seniors, mealtimes are often one of the highlights of their day – they want dining to be an experience, rather than a mere meal.

Trend #3.

A Social Atmosphere with Fine Food

Traditionally, baby boomers view dinner as a time of gathering. They grew up with social activities that always involved food. They’ve spent a lifetime enjoying social gatherings for sports, concerts, birthday celebrations, graduation parties, anniversaries and holidays. These rewarding get-togethers were always centered around food. As a result, most baby boomers expect that same social atmosphere, along with healthy upscale food options and restaurant-style menus. Host parties during dinner time, particularly around the holiday season. Since staff members work hard, residents appreciate knowing that they are getting an opportunity to enjoy themselves, too.

Trend #4.

Comfortable Unstructured Dining Areas for Family and Friends

Families and guests appreciate having a casual dining area when visiting Residential Assisted Living homes. This concept allows for privacy and enables families to avoid awkward moments. For example, some residents become attached to specific seats at certain tables, having an extra dining area for casual occasions prevents unwanted instances. Residential Assisted Living homes can use patio areas, sunrooms, kitchenettes, formal living rooms and other designated areas for visits.

Trend #5.

Fresh Snacks and Food Available Any Time

Even snacks have been altered to accommodate baby boomers. This generation wants variety and flexibility. The traditional 8 a.m. breakfast, 10 a.m. snack, noon lunch, 2 p.m. snack, 5 p.m. dinner, and 7 p.m. snack doesn’t align with their lifestyle. Today’s seniors simply want food to be available around the clock, and they will eat whenever they are ready. Instead of graham crackers, they prefer fresh-baked cookies, mini muffins, and pastries made by the chef and displayed exhibition style. Some seniors want fully stocked pantries for random conveniences of grabbing cold cereal, fresh fruit or sandwiches. Residential assisted living is no longer a one size fits all operation.

Trend #6. 

Strong Interest in Locally Sourced Food

Informed senior living residents appreciate knowing that many of their foods are coming from nearby farms and food producers. It’s now a trend and expectation. Sometimes fulfilling this need is as simple as providing coffee from a local shop and baked goods from a local bakery. Local businesses flourish and our residents are happy – everybody wins.


RALNA is advancing the industry with information that best serves the needs of senior care and enables Residential Assisted Living homes to compete in a growing market. Enhanced dining programs are key to moving senior living programs forward. Professionally managing the combined passion for food and social activities amongst baby boomers can set one Residential Assisted Living home above another. An excellent senior living dining experience makes a difference.

The landscape of residential assisted living is rapidly growing, and RALNA helps Residential Assisted Living businesses stay ahead of the game. Content at www.RALNA.com includes topics ranging from legislation, innovative products, unique services, marketing resources, employee retention tips and so much more. RALNA is preparing industry owners and operators with the resources needed to serve the oncoming silver tsunami of retiring baby boomers with the best care and dining experiences possible.

What is your Residential Assisted Living kitchen staff preparing to accommodate the Silver Tsunami of baby boomers?

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