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Just moved my mom to an assisted living facility out of a rehab facility. And the food is outrageous. Chili dogs and pizza? They even served margaritas (alcoholic) at rehab and push desserts like it was crack. My mom complains about her food but what can you do? Ensure has 20gr of sugar so that's a terrible option. I feel terrible for her. Once I was there to eat with her and the fish smelled so bad and tasted even worse. Fried chicken, gravy smothered rice, processed white bread/rolls, sweet tea. How is someone who is 79 and not in great health supposed to get any better with this for food?

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Typical USDA guidelines for an adult care lunch would be: 1 cup milk, 1/2 cup fruit, 1/2 cup vegetables, 2 slices of bread and 2 ounces of meat. If you are getting less than that, talk to the kitchen. see usda.gov "adult meal pattern"
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We carried in at least two good meals a day when Mom was in rehab. I couldn't believe they were feeding these folks spicy foods, fried mystery meat, dry fish and maybe 1/8 cup of a vegetable twice a day. One tray I well remember was 3 baby carrots, spicy sausage about 4 thin slices and maybe 10 red beans in a spicy sauce. Just great for someone who is inactive.

Mother disliked fish and we told the head dietitian at least once a week. She still had fish served at least 2 meals a week. They would mark her as not eating and I would attach a note stating what she had really eaten each day.

I ask them to not bring those nasty looking trays in because we were providing Mom's meals, other than breakfast. It was trash food so it going in the trash was appropriate.

My heart just aches for those who do not have someone in and out every day to check on them. We never left Mother alone whether in the hospital or rehab. One of the 4 of us was always there 24/7 and we had a private duty nurse on standby in case something came up. I truly understand how fortunate my Mom was to have her family in the same city.
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Any place that serves meals 3 times a day learns from experience what the residents will eat. If they are throwing away a ton of salads and broiled fish, chances are they won't be serving that on a regular basis.

My Mom is a fussy eater but Dad will eat anything put in front of him.... I'm the same way as Dad because I hate to cook so if someone else is doing the cooking everything looks good :)

I would assume that continuing care facilities would have special diets for those residents who have food allergies or for religious reasons, one might have to pay extra for this, but it is worth looking into.
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I don't blame you, lblack5255. If a resident isn't happy about the food choices for any reason, an advocate (you) should definitely work with the dietary director, director of nursing or/or administrator. Try not to lecture or tell them how they should be feeding the rest of the residents, but work with them so that your Mom gets what she prefers.

(My son is in the hospital right now. His diet is not at all balanced but he is very healthy (he's there from an accident) and he isn't going to eat what the kitchen sends up. Not eating is definitely not good. So we are working through his nurse to get him less well-balanced meals.)

Whether it is because of nutritional concerns, restrictive preferences, ethnic considerations, or for any reason a care center resident is not happy with the meals, do work with the appropriate staff. They really want happy campers!
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My mom actually DOES NOT want the unhealthy food. She is so upset about it. She wants to eat healthily and isn't into the fried foods or desserts. She knows she feels bad when she eats that way. I guess she is an exception to the rule here. And the fact that sugar is terrible for your immune system makes me upset for these people who trust they are getting good care. I don't want to see my mom end up back in the hospital anytime soon.
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My mother's NH has a "happy hour" once a month, with alcohol. It also has bingo, of course. :)

"Nutritious" food is only healthy if it is eaten. That can be a real challenge when serving elderly people or even sick people of any age.

How is someone supposed to get any better on that food? When I was feeding my husband (dementia) I knew he was not going to get better, no matter what. His geriatrician and his neurologist both urged him to "eat what you like." We tossed the heart-healthy diet he had been on for years to the winds.

My mother's geriatrician told her, "Whatever you have been eating has gotten you to age 90, so I trust your judgement. Eat whatever you like." She is now (at 94) in a nursing home and she loves the food, especially that there is a dessert with each meal (sometimes a fruit salad) and that she can have a cookie anytime she wants it. Will she better on this food? Nope. And she won't get better on a "healthier" diet either. Happiness is a great goal right now. A slice of apple pie makes her happy.
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PamStegman: Bingo.
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Alcohol in a rehab facility? What have you been smoking?
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My mom hated the food at rehab, and I dont blame her.. it was bland and tasteless. She would have loved a chili dog.. I think part of the job is to get them to EAT,,, anything!! Alot of those folks want what they grew up eating.. and it was not "healthy"as we know it now. It was fried and covered with gravy, or hearty and filling. They are not prisoners.. they want what they want. And alot of them enjoyed a drink in the evening. Many Assisted livings/ rehabs allow happy hour, its a social thing. If the happy hour freaks you out.. when I worked at the LTC facility we allowed the guys to have a guys movie night once a month.. if you know what I mean.... Some of the residents are younger...
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I think in our state, (NC) there are guidelines that must be met for Assisted Living meals. I look at the meal plans regularly and they seem pretty good. It's not high fat either. Gravy and greasy food like that would likely make many seniors ill. And alcohol? That's bizarre. I've never heard of that.
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There are nutrition guidelines for assisted livings. The carb content is usually for the entire day, not the meal. Also, portion control is used in the kitchen. If you are truly concerned, have a meeting with the dietary director, director of nursing or administrator. I know when I worked at an assisted, I was upset on day to see fried bologna sandwiches on the menu for lunch, only to find out later that the resident council had voted it for "meal of the month."
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The way I look at it, once someone reaches a certain age they should be able to eat what they want, a little bit isn't going to hurt them.

I know my Dad [92] would love to have a chili dog or pizza, but Mom [97] never would prepare a fun lunch or dinner like that for him. She never had a pizza in her life, but Dad remember having pizza when he was in college.
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