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What to Look for With Nursing Home Meals

Written by NHAbuseGuide on July 29, 2015

What to Look for With Nursing Home Meals

When you are considering a nursing home for yourself or a loved one, you will eventually get around to the issue of meals and food. Everyone has to eat, particularly seniors and anyone with medical issues, and that means that nursing home meals have to be given a lot of attention.

While it may seem obvious to look strictly at the quality of the meals, you need to give it a bit more thought. Here are some issues that AARP suggests you consider where your nursing home meals are concerned:

  • Will religious issues be honored?
  • Will there be fresh water on hand at all times – in dining areas and rooms?
  • Does the food served smell and look appealing?
  • Are there choices offered at every meal? Is it just one item available to all?
  • Do those who need help with eating get it immediately? Even when it is just a drink of water?
  • Are healthy snacks available throughout the day and night?
  • Are special dietary needs met?
  • Are there options for eating with others as well as alone? Is it possible to take meals outdoors or in a patient room?
  • Are special events or holidays honored with special foods?
  • Is it possible for family or friends to enjoy meals with you?
  • Are there any nutritionists on staff to support your health and wellbeing?
  • Will you have any opportunity to cook?
  • Will the staff be willing to bring you tea before bed or allow early morning coffee if these things are important and you cannot make them yourself?
  • Is there a coffee hour?

It is very easy to think you will just deal with the food as the issue arises, but there are far too many factors to just let this go without some thought. Food may not seem that important to you or a loved one right now, but it does affect the overall quality of life.

Doing the Research

You must pay a visit to any nursing homes you are considering, or ask someone to do this for you. Ask about sitting down for a meal prepared by the kitchen staff, or even dining with the residents during a standard meal. Look at the quality of the food and be sure that it is up to your standards or needs.

Also, consider the general smell in the entire facility. Olfactory senses can impact our appetite, and if you find that the facility has unpleasant odors, it can create a tendency to eat less or skip meals altogether. And do not hesitate to ask patients about their opinions of the food. If you see a lot of wrinkled noses and unhappy scowls, you may want to consider if the overall quality of life is as diminished as that of the food.

Do take the time to go online and check out the Medicare.gov details as well as your state Department of Health details about any of the sites you are considering. If you discover that there are problems with sanitary conditions in the kitchen or food prep areas or that the food in general is a concern, don’t ignore this issue.

We all associate food with socializing, and whether you meet up with residents for a morning coffee or each meal, you want to be sure you look forward to it rather than dreading it. Find out ahead of time if the food is of the quality you need and if it will supply you with adequate nutrition. If you fear that the food is not safe or sanitary, or you cannot get the food you need for your health, don’t hesitate to complain or even contact an attorney.


AARP.org. Nursing Homes. http://assets.aarp.org/external_sites/caregiving/checklists/checklist_nursingHomes.html



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