A Dining Experience For Members In Our Dementia Program
Dining – The Heart of Our Alzheimer’s Caregiver Home & Program
Residents that are enrolled in our dementia program at our community in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois have access to delicious healthy food options from our master chefs. The kitchen has affectionately been called “the heart of the home”and for our residents, Terra Vista is home. So we decided to bring our heart, the kitchen, out to the residents, creating a more comfortable, recognizable space that offers a more intimate feel than that of an institutional, stale and/or larger bistro style dining room.
Design: Each of our four neighborhoods at our facility that are available to seniors in our dementia program have a separate kitchen and intimate dining room with a residential, community feel rather than that of a utilitarian public space.
Studies have shown that people with dementia ingest more food and have an easier time eating in quieter settings with minimal distractions. Our novel Heart of the Home concept was designed with this mindset.
Our Alzheimer’s caregiver facility focuses on family style dining, i.e. staff will be dining with the residents, not just serving them. Dining together creates a stronger bond and a sense of family between staff and residents as well as provides extra hands to assist those who may need extra help during mealtime.
Though residential in look, all of the neighborhood kitchens that are available with our memory care services have been specially designed for our dementia community. With no ovens or stoves to pose a danger, the food is prepared in our main, commercial kitchen and served by staff members in each neighborhood.
Utilizing technology, heating elements are minimal, mobile and safe to the touch. Each neighborhood kitchen that is available for residents in our dementia program is equipped with a full size refrigerator for storing daily necessities as well as special items that family members bring in for their loved one.
Each of our residents that are enrolled in our memory care services at our long term nursing home has a unique variety of needs and degree of physical capabilities. To accommodate residents in the dining room, we provide specialized dishware and silverware that is designed for individuals with dementia, making meal times easier and encouraging independence.
Though we encourage socialization, especially during meals, we understand that there may be times when a resident in our dementia program may function better in a quieter space. Each neighborhood dining area at our Alzheimer’s caregiver facility has been designed with a small, semi-private area that is designed to make residents feel more comfortable. The space is also available to families wish to dine with their loved one and have additional privacy.
In addition, each resident apartment is also equipped with a mini-fridge so that the residents will have instant access to food and beverage items that are deemed safe.
Cuisine: The most important attribute of any kitchen is the food that comes out of it. Terra Vista is an Alzheimer’s caregiver home that is constantly evolving in developing menus and recipes that are “brain” healthy as well as delicious.
The nutritionists and dietary health managers in our dementia program don’t simply create daily menus that far exceed state and federal guidelines, rather these culinary craftsmen provide a sophisticated, nutritious blend of tastes, colors and platting presentation that please the palate and eye.
Our dementia program and community in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois has adopted the MIND diet as a guide to supplementing our meals and snacks. Created byMartha Clare Morris, PhD, a Rush nutritional epidemiologist and her colleagues, the diet is a combination of the Mediterranean and DASH diets, both of which have been proven to reduce the risk of hypertension, strokes and heart attacks.
As documented in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association, The MIND diet lowered the risk of Alzheimer’s by as much as 53 percent in participants who adhered to the diet rigorously, and by about 35 percent in those who followed it moderately well (https://www.rush.edu/news/diet-may-help-prevent-alzheimers)
In addition to three daily primary meals, our Alzheimer’s caregiver home offers light, supplemental snacks between meals:
- Brain Boosting Smoothiesbetween Breakfast and Lunch (Consisting of fresh, healthy ingredients to provide natural energy)
- High Tea between Lunch and Dinner (Consisting of antioxidant rich tea/juice and such things as finger sandwiches or baked treats to maintain metabolism and increase appetite)
- Goodnight Granola between Dinner and Bedtime (Consisting of natural sleep-inducing ingredients such as honey, almonds, oatmeal, dark chocolate…)
The staff at our Alzheimer’s caregiver facility also work closely with families to understand the resident’s likes and dislikes so that we can alter items to suit their tastes, within reason. In addition, we are able to modify most foods, such as pureeing or thickening, if instructed by their doctor.