Food Management Digizine - Q3 2023


Roger Least Corporate Dining Director at Brightview Senior Living

One of our readers shares his real-world insights on what’s making senior dining tick these days and into the future.

State of the industry: Two years post-COVID vaccine rollout, our dining rooms are as busy and bustling as ever.- We know through research that food and community go hand-in-hand: the more often people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives (University of Oxford). Thus, from an overall health and socialization standpoint, the senior living dining experience is more crucial than ever. Based on what our team of 1500+ dining associates is experiencing on a daily basis, here are the three senior living dining trends we’re seeing shift the industry: 1. You’re Invited: Introducing a reservation system: We learned of the dangers of isolation during quarantine due to COVID-19. In fact, social isolation was associated with about a 50 percent increased risk of dementia, according to the CDC. Meals, particularly dinner, are often the highlight of our residents’ day. To make dining an even more enjoyable social event, we have implemented a reservation system to encourage our residents to secure their table in advance and invite their friends to join them, We’re rolling this program out as needed in some of our communities, and so far, the response has been incredibly positive.

The much-buzzed-about “Silver Tsunami” poses major opportunities for the senior living industry in the future. In 2022, the U.S. assisted living market size was valued at $91.8B and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 5.53 percent from 2023 to 2030. From a population standpoint, according to the United States Census Bureau, the 75-84 age group made up roughly 14.3 million (29 percent) of the senior population in 2016, which is more than double the number and proportion (6.3 million or 13 percent) of those 85 and older. Around 27 percent of the population is between the ages of 75 and 84. In short, the senior living Industry is positioned for notable growth as we prepare to welcome the Baby Boomer generation into our communities. With this generation comes a shift in thinking, consumption, and lifestyle, compared to the previous Silent generation, and the senior living industry must be ready. As the Corporate Dining Director at Brightview Senior Living, I oversee the entire dining experience at all 46 communities in eight states. I work with my teams who are cooking in the kitchen and serving in the dining rooms to ensure we’re providing the very best to our residents, balancing nostalgic favorites with nutrient-dense options to optimize their nutrition and overall health.


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