By Steve Moran
I have to start by saying …
- My team hates this title, though I have been getting complaints that my titles have lost their edge.
- I could have this all wrong, and you may completely disagree with my thinking. If so, I would remind you that I have a standing policy that rebuttals always get first place, so if you send me a critical article, it is the best way to get a guest article published.
The Big Question
In the last few years, there has been a lot of talk about creating senior living communities with healthy dining experiences. On the surface it makes a lot of sense: Residents are older; they are mostly trying to live longer, healthier, and better lives.
Who wouldn’t love that? Perfect for residents and family members, because after all, if you are helping your mom or dad select a senior living community, who wouldn’t want the best, the healthiest?
When I think it through, it kind of gives me the giggles. We are going to take a bunch of people who have been eating what they have been eating for the last 70, 80, or 90 years and tell them it is time to start eating kale, broccoli, beetroot, and algae. Perhaps if they were Dunbar in Joseph Heller’s 1961 satirical anti-war novel Catch 22. Dunbar’s entire life was focused on living as long as possible, mostly by being bored or uncomfortable, because when one is bored or uncomfortable, time seems to slow way down.
Mostly what I hear is along the lines of, “If I have made it this long, I am going to eat and drink what I want to eat and drink.”
I would also add that coming off five senior living conferences in six weeks, the food and drink options offered to attendees would not suggest a particular focus on healthy living in their own lives by the leaders in our industry.
There is, no doubt, a subset of people who have lived healthy all their lives who will want to continue to live that way. In most communities there have always been options that would allow people to live that way, though for those people, picking the right community would for sure include a thorough understanding of the dining program. But a question worth exploring is: Is this a big enough group to make it worth catering to?
There is one more thing, and maybe this one thing alone makes the focus on healthy dining worthwhile. That is that even though most residents won’t choose healthy dining options, they still like that those options are available to them, even if they won’t actually take advantage of them.
Maybe for the marketing value, it makes sense. What do you think?