Eating Well As We Age: The Importance of Dining to Memory Care
The varied daily dining menu in our memory care community caters to senior tastes and health needs at Kensington Place, and is just one of many reasons a move might be the best decision for your loved one now.
When older adults are struggling with memory loss, their nutrition can suffer. A senior may forget to eat throughout the day, or turn to fast food or frozen prepared meals because they’ve forgotten what to do in the kitchen. None of these choices is healthful, especially for older adults who have greater nutritional needs.
In fact, the recently published National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that just one in eight Americans is considered metabolically healthy without taking medication, a pretty dismal statistic.
Reimagining the Senior Dining Experience
When your loved one moves into a premier memory care community such as Kensington Place Redwood City, concerns about their eating over-salted foods high in memory-damaging saturated- and trans fats, or filled with artificial ingredients, will vanish. Our culinary craftsman, Tony Ng, is senior chef extraordinaire.
Tony has been cooking for seniors since he was a teenager. Cooking for a senior community unleashes his creativity, skill, and passion for making the dining experience memorable for seniors.
Tony’s greatest joy is providing those he serves with nutritious, well-balanced meals that meet dietary needs and food sensitivities, as well as Kensington Place’s high standards of presentation and quality.
He says, “I strive daily to deliver a mealtime experience that leaves each diner happy, satisfied, healthy, and eager to join me again tomorrow. I routinely manipulate recipes to accommodate special dietary requirements, without compromising taste, texture, and aroma.”
Healthy Ingredients Begin Here
At Kensington Place Redwood City, the quality of the food we choose to serve our residents is paramount. We always aim to provide the healthiest ingredients available. In this regard, it’s useful to understand the distinction between conventional, organic, and non-GMO produce.
“Conventional” and “Organic” refer to the ways in which food is grown, handled and processed. Conventional farmers use synthetic or chemical means to fertilize soil, control weeds and insects and prevent livestock disease. Organic farmers opt for less invasive methods such as compost fertilizer, crop rotation, and giving animals room to roam — hence the term “grass-fed” for beef and “pasture raised” for eggs.
While many food labels read “all natural”, “free-range” or “hormone-free”, signifying that the food has been raised or grown humanely, only the “USDA Organic” label indicates that a food is certified organic.
Foods labeled “non-GMO” are also a healthier option than GMO foods. Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are foods that have been genetically engineered, often to make them hardier and pesticide resistant. Yet there are unintended health impacts from GMOs, which can include:
- Allergens. Because the addition of new genetic material changes protein sequences, the GMO could produce known or unknown allergens.
- Nutritional deficiency. Altered DNA could decrease levels of important nutrients in the GMO crop.
- Increased toxins. Genetic engineering could inadvertently increase naturally occurring plant toxins — or introduce a new toxic strain created by the mixing of genes.
- Antibiotic resistance. An antibiotic-resistant gene inserted into GMO crops may pose the most serious health hazard since there is the possibility that these genes might transfer to pathogenic bacteria in our bodies and create new, antibiotic-resistant diseases.
All of these issues are especially concerning for seniors. While the debate over GMO safety continues, other countries have completely banned GMO foods.
However, it isn’t essential to eat only organics. “Unsprayed” and “non-GMO” labels can be considered as good as organic. Small, local farmers may not have the resources to undergo the rigorous, expensive USDA organic certification process. The main consideration is how the food is grown or raised, not whether it has a specific sticker on the package. For older people, particularly those with chronic health conditions, any product labeled “unsprayed” and/or “non-GMO” is an excellent alternative to conventional.
At Kensington Place Redwood City, we use organic ingredients and products as often as possible for our seasonal menu and, of course, always offer the freshest local, non-GMO ingredients we can find in all of our recipes.
Recipes for Memory Care Enhancement
What we eat has a definite effect on our brains. On the Greek island of Ikaria, where people routinely live to a ripe, happy old age, they eat fresh vegetables, fruits, and legumes from their own gardens, drink goat’s milk from their own goats, and enjoy a communal atmosphere that pervades their relaxed lifestyle. Most people walk everywhere on this island home.
But it’s not just the healthful Mediterranean diet that enhances their cognitive functioning. In a sense, the Ikarians have created a senior living community in island form.
Like the people of Ikaria, Kensington Place is a gathering place where residents and their family members and friends enjoy world-class dining in a setting that welcomes everyone. Our commitment to providing an engaging dining experience is one of the many ways we bring our promise — “To love and care for your family members as we do our own” — come to life.
Of course, like all Kensington Place team members, Tony Ng (our chef supreme) takes our philosophy to heart. And like all team members who serve our senior residents, he goes the distance, and then some. Exhibition cooking is a wonderful way to stimulate the senses and pique the interest of our residents. Chef Tony makes entrée after entrée of delicious meals for our residents, team members, and guests. And of course Tony will put on a bit of a show, explaining the dishes and flaring the flames on occasion to inspire even more excitement.
In Tony’s case, this means he doesn’t just prepare nutritionally balanced, delectable meals that help senior brains stay as mentally sharp as possible in our memory care neighborhoods — he also loves sharing his recipes, so family members and friends can enjoy the savory dishes your loved one eats at Kensington Place every day!
Your mouth might start watering just from the ingredients and pictures that Tony posts on our blog. (And you might want to have ingredients on hand so you can start preparing your own personal feast immediately!)
Here are 7 of our favorites recipes.
Chef Tony’s Famous Scones (So famous local firefighters stop in and request them!)