General Question

Haleth's avatar

What's the best way to make a menu for the elderly?

Asked by Haleth (19513points) September 9th, 2010

There’s an assisted living home two blocks from my job. We have a long-time regular customer who calls to order food that isn’t available at the home, mostly sweets and gourmet items. We deliver it every Thursday afternoon. We don’t normally deliver (not enough staff for regular deliveries), but she’s such a great customer and always orders at the same time, so we’re glad to do it.

So I’m thinking, a lot of the other residents would probably like to do this if they knew about it, and it would be a great source of business. There aren’t really any grocery stores or anything nearby.

I was thinking of calling to find out who is in charge of meals or activities and working with them to develop a simple menu and delivery schedule. We would have to deliver at a set time because we only have two or three people working at any given time, so we’d need to plan ahead for it, but we already do this all the time for the one customer.

Relevant info: Assisted living means the residents need help with a few daily activities but not around-the-clock nursing assistance. For example, our customer walks with a cane and prefers to keep to the building, but visits with other people who live there. I don’t know if the residents have their own kitchens- need to find out.

My store sells sandwiches, salads, pastries, candy, and a few grocery things like fruit, yogurt, charcuterie, and cheese. Our most popular items with the elderly seem to be soup, french baguettes, chocolate chip cookies, brownies, gingerbread, and yogurt. Of course I’d be glad to deliver anything we have in the store, but I want to make a list of our most popular items for residents who can’t get out here.

I’m definitely open to any ideas and input! This idea is still in the brainstorming stage.

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10 Answers

WestRiverrat's avatar

Check with the home’s nutritionist, if they have one. Most would be happy to help you set up a healthy menu for their residents.

Response moderated (Unhelpful)
Seaminglysew's avatar

I agree with WestRiverrat, consult a nutritionist. This is a tricky thing as some healthy foods have adverse affects on the elderly. Also, some food do not go well with some medications, its a lot to take on.They also don’t have the chewing capacity that we have.

veritas's avatar

Salads and fruit platters are a no-no for many eldelry because of medical isues (diverticulitis, etc)and diffculty with chewing. Soft cooked items are definitely a hit – especially nutritious soups, stews, cooked desserts like and apple or peach cobbler, breads like banana/zucchini (without the nuts)., puddings, and soft but tasty foods such as ziti, stuffed shells, etc. You might also consider nutritious milkshakes, yogurt parfaits, etc. If the person is diabetic, that is another whoe challenge

SuperMouse's avatar

My 94 year-old grandfather lives in an assisted living facility much like the one you describe. He does not have a kitchen in his room, but he does have a fridge, a table and a counter with a sink. I think he might enjoy have some yogurt or a sandwich he could leave in the fridge and snack on throughout the day. I also know he would love to have something sweet around! Since he no longer drives he can’t get to the store to pick these things up and I think it would be a treat to have them delivered for him.

A good place to start might be to get a copy of the home’s menu to see what types of things they serve. You could see if there is a pattern in the ingredients. I do think that there are as many diets and diet restrictions as there are people so I would be reluctant to rule anything out.

Haleth's avatar

@veritas That’s a good point. We do have plenty of soft cooked foods and soups. I’ll definitely keep that in mind.
@SuperMouse Great advice, thank you!

lillycoyote's avatar

Have you considered that the very reason she is ordering food from your establishment is because she doesnt particularly care for the diet that the nutritionist at the assisted living facility has planned for her and the other residents?

john65pennington's avatar

Most homes forbid this type of outside food being brought in for various reasons. i am mainly referring to nursing homes, not assited living. my mother is 92 and wanted a hamburger from Wendys. she has a hard time swallowing and the hamburger could possibly choke her to death.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@john65pennington That is one of the reasons I suggested talking to the nutritionist. If some of the residents have health restrictions on their diet, he/she would know and could flag them.

Kardamom's avatar

You should definitely talk to the person in charge of nutrition at the assisted living center and tell them that you’d like to start offering a delivery service that will take place at a specific time of day (or certain days of the week). Let the nutritionist know what kinds of things your store offers, then you can come up with a multi-tiered menu option. Let’s say for each day you offer 3 different types of meals. Each of the 3 types of meals would be suitable for different types of senior citizens. The types of meals would be labeled in a manner which would make sense for the seniors and would be figured out by you and the nutritionist. What I’m talking about is there would be one meal that would be specifically for people who can’t chew very well, one meal would be specifically for people who can’t eat certain foods because of allergies or medication interactions, and then a third type of meal that is suitable to the folks who can eat pretty much normally. Each of these 3 types of menus would have a name that the seniors could remember and could, to relate to the type of food restrictions (something cute, or even a picture would be better than something clinical). On each day that your company would be offering these 3 types of menus, the actual food items would be slightly different. For example the soup or the dessert or the sandwich would be changed to a different kind on each day that these 3 menus are offered. Then, you could get paper menus printed up for the senior center which would have all of the choices listed on there with boxes for checking (so you know how many of which type of meal is being ordered). There would be a notice saying that to get your order on such and such a day, the order would have to be placed by such and such a time in the morning. Someone at the center should be in charge of taking the orders from the seniors at the correct time and getting the order form filled out and the order phoned in so that the seniors, themselves, don’t have to do it and your store only has to get one phone call. At the company I used to work for, one of the sandwich companies used to do this for us and our receptionist would call the order in by 10:30 am and it worked out really well. Good luck : )

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