Assisted Living

8/31/2020 | By Seniors Guide Staff

When someone conducts research into assisted living facilities, either for themselves or for a loved one, it’s helpful to have a list of questions to ask each facility. One of the most common questions asked is “Does this assisted living facility include meals?”

Another question, just as important, which is not asked quite so often is, “If meals are provided, what kind of meals are they?”

That second question matters. It’s essential for people at any age to eat a balanced diet for full nutrients and health maintenance.

Most, if not all, assisted living communities offer a variety of meal plans, depending on the needs of their residents.

The Most Common Meal Plans

  • Three meals a day are provided, in specified windows of time.
  • The dining room (or restaurant) is open and food is available at all hours of the day.
  • Meal plans are offered but offered but residents can opt out of them should they wish.

Depending on the facility, other meal options can be offered.

  • Apartments furnished with kitchenettes, where people can do their own cooking.
  • Room service: meals delivered to a person’s room, for a fee.

Larger cities have a wide choice of assisted living facilities – with gradations in the prices of each facility. People in smaller cities will not have as many facilities to choose from, and it may be, in the very smallest cities or towns, that there is only one facility!

What Are the Differences Between Each Meal Plan?

It all comes down to cost.  A facility that offers three meals a day at specified times will have a large dining room. A facility that offers meals “on demand” throughout the day will have an actual restaurant with cooks on duty at all times – that type of plan might be more expensive.

Residents who live in a room with their own kitchenette won’t need a meal plan. They might want to go down to the dining room once in a while and pay for a single meal on occasion, but generally they’ll cook their own food in their rooms.

What Kind of Meals Are Provided?

Now to our second question.

Assisted living facilities will usually be able to offer specific meals for those with health-related issues. Food prepared with no salt, for example, for those on a low-salt diet. If they are unable to offer such foods without an extra surcharge, look for another facility that can if this is a necessity for the potential resident.

But what kinds of meals are provided? Is there a wide variety, including vegetarian offerings? Are desserts included?  Does a meal consist of an entrée and two healthy side dishes?

For illustration, let’s look at two assisted living facilities in different cities, included for informational purposes only.

Let’s look at First Colonial Inn in Virginia Beach, Virginia. They offer two living options – independent living and assisted living.

  • Among many other amenities, they offer “three meals a day with options to still cook your favorite meals with our fully equipped kitchens in all apartments.”
  • They also have “all-day dining hours with two unique venues,” with “multiple menu selections and everyday entrees available.”

Edgewood Aspen Wind in Cheyenne, Wyoming, offers independent living, assisted living, and memory care.

Their independent living package offers “one meal per day, plus additional meal packages available.”

Their assisted living package includes:

  • Three delicious meals per day plus snacks.
  • Family dining room (a private room should the resident wish to entertain family).

A facility’s website usually gives plenty of information about what that facility offers, and researching via the web can help you narrow your choices.

The more you know, the easier your decision will be.

Seniors Guide Staff

Seniors Guide has been addressing traditional topics and upcoming trends in the senior living industry since 1999. We strive to educate seniors and their loved ones in an approachable manner, and aim to provide them with the right information to make the best decisions possible.

Seniors Guide Staff