Diverse group of seniors dining together outside.

How Dining Together Can Improve Senior Nutrition

Break bread together, gather around the table, grab food, sup — even with all the ways we have to talk about sharing a meal, we don’t often discuss the benefits of it. Eating with friends can improve senior nutrition, build community and lessen loneliness.

One of the many benefits of moving to a senior living community is the delicious dining options. In addition to a variety of on-site venues, flexible mealtimes and carefully crafted menus, community dining gives residents the opportunity to come together with good friends or meet new neighbors. Professional chefs craft delicious and nutrient-rich meals from fresh ingredients to make it easier for residents to eat a balanced diet. But the real magic happens when groups of friends share a table, chat, and support one another.

The Challenges of Eating Alone

As seniors get older, their metabolism slows, and they often don’t feel as hungry anymore. Without the ceremony associated with communal eating, their bodies alone may not remind them to eat. Many older adults become at risk for malnutrition. Malnutrition can lead to myriad challenges, including reduced muscle mass, decreased stamina, worsened immune system and instability.

Some seniors still eat but aren’t as motivated to cook when only one or two people live in their residence. Often, they’ll turn to fast food or prepackaged meals, which typically aren’t as healthy. Eating food that lacks important vitamins and minerals can still lead to malnutrition.

Eating alone can also increase a person’s sense of loneliness. Loneliness can cause an increased risk of dementia, heart disease, stroke, depression, anxiety, and even premature death.

The Benefits of Communal Meals

Eating brings people together, and sharing a table and food builds trust and cooperation. Additionally, it helps improve senior nutrition because seniors — well, everyone, really — tend to make healthier food choices when dining together. And they tend to eat more slowly, which is helpful for digestion.

Mealtimes are a great opportunity to foster social connections. Swapping stories and sharing conversations are inherently good for people. Seniors feel a greater sense of belonging, which benefits their mental health and emotional well-being. With closer social connections, older adults tend to feel enhanced self-esteem.

Dinner Table Discussion Topics

When new senior living residents arrive at a community dining venue, they often want the conversation to flow right away. To help create a connection, here are some topics that could inspire deeper discussions.

  • What life lesson did you learn the hard way?
  • If you had to teach one subject, what would you teach?
  • Which book do you think everyone should read?
  • What’s one of your beloved childhood memories?
  • What’s your goal for the next six months?
  • What would be the name of your autobiography?
  • What’s your most prized possession?
  • What did you want to be when you were a kid?
  • Who’s the strongest person you know?
  • If you could tell your 25-year-old self one thing, what would it be?
  • What are your favorite sounds and smells?

Dining at Trillium Woods

At Trillium Woods, our professional dining team works hard to deliver experiences that serve residents’ bodies and spirits. With fresh, local, organic ingredients, menu selections can help improve senior nutrition and simply satisfy their palates. And around the table, you’ll find friends and neighbors excited to meet you, dine together, and make meaningful connections.