Difficult eaters ahead

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Gary Tetz
Gary Tetz

Food. I eat it, savor it, crave it and can't seem to live without it — and I suspect I'm not alone. Talk to any long-term care resident, and he or she will almost certainly list it as one of the most important factors in his or her dissatisfaction, right behind the low quality of the coffee and the bad attitude of that new aide who hands out meds like the recipients have leprosy. 

As I ponder the next generations of food-loving nursing home residents — and experts predict there will be more after this one — I wonder how you're going to handle them. For instance, how you're going to handle me. Right now, I'm on a green smoothie diet. This involves an industrial strength Vitamix blender and a heap of vegetables. And not just any vegetables. Mine are organic, obscure and expensive. Try plugging that into your dietary budget management software.

Now that I think about it, I don't know anyone who isn't fervently pursuing some weird food regimen. My friends are soaking chia seeds, grinding flax meal and sprinkling hemp hearts on their oatmeal. They're snacking on seaweed and Siberian kale. I'm surrounded by the gluten-free, lactose intolerant and, worst of all, the nutritionally incoherent. I hope you have a plan for us.

It may be hard to imagine or even mathematically calculate, but each epoch of the elderly will be exponentially more demanding than the previous — particularly when it comes to food. The cruel irony is that your greatest opportunity to boost your resident and family satisfaction ratings also will be your greatest challenge. It's going to take more than just rearranging the dining room furniture and pushing a snack cart from room to room.

Are you ready to be condescendingly asked, “Is this salmon wild? Is this broccoli organic? Was this chicken raised humanely and allowed to attend a private school?” 

You better be, because I'm on my way.

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