Fine Dining in Senior Living

Dining & Nutrition In Luxury Senior Living

As you read about and visit senior living communities in Athens, Georgia you will discover that many promote the amenity of fine dining.  Fine dining suggests the community will offer its residents the experience of the upscale restaurant-style meal experience.

Independent living communities usually offer the choice option to pay for 1, 2, or 3 dining room meals daily while assisted living or memory care communities include all meals in their rental fees.  There is an assumption that people living with health conditions benefiting from the support of assisted services will also benefit from the provision of meal preparation and nutritional support.

When touring luxury senior living communities you can expect to find kitchenettes in most apartments.  Independent living apartments will have small sized full kitchens as some meals are expected to be prepared by the resident.

Assisted living apartments no longer include stoves, but are typically equipped with varying sized refrigerators, sinks, and microwaves. Most memory care apartment kitchenettes are now designed to include only a small area for storing personal snacks and it is more common to find sinks or refrigerators in communities that were built before 2015.

Orchard at Athens is a brand new assisted living and memory care community with a state of the art environmental design featuring high ceiling light-filled dining rooms, a private dining room, sweet shop, cafe and lounge, and apartment kitchenette options including granite countertops, spacious cabinets for storage, refrigerators, and microwaves.

Luxury senior living communities know that people like choice and not everyone has the time or interest in a formal dining experience for every meal.   In most independent living communities you will find additional opportunities for purchasing food on the go. These might include a bistro-style menu of soups, sandwiches or salad, or a  cafe with specialty coffees, muffins or pastries. And in some, you may even find a bar or lounge open for residents in the afternoon or evenings serving appetizers and beer, wine or cocktails.

Assisted Living Dining Options

Here are some things to consider about dining in assisted living:

  • Is there a variety of meal options?
  • Do menus change often and accommodate for resident preferences or special dietary needs?
  • Are mealtimes on a set schedule or flexible?
  • Are residents assisted with reminders or escorts to dining areas?
  • Is there a policy or procedure in place to ensure residents or to meals or eat what’s provided for them?
  • Are there enjoyment opportunities offered for resident cooking or baking?
  • Can residents eat in their rooms when they desire and is there a charge for a meal delivery?
  • Is there a nutritionist accessible for guidance about weight loss, weight gain, or poor appetites?

Dining With Dementia

Dementia is not just a memory problem and change in diet can be expected in time.  Changing abilities in object recognition or fine motor skills will often affect a person’s ability to use utensils, swallow food, or have a desire to eat.  As this can dramatically effect nutrition and quality of life it’s important to inquire about the following:

  • Is there a variety of menu options to encourage an interest in eating?
  • Are the meals offered on a set schedule?
  • Is there ritual or routine in place to help cue the brain and body it’s time to eat?
  • Are residents assisted with finding their place to eat?
  • Are meals observed? Is there a documentation system in place to ensure residents eating or drinking activity?
  • Are families consulted about dietary preferences or restrictions?
  • Is hydration a priority?
  • Is there communication with families should changes in the diet be observed?
  • Are speech therapists available to assess change in swallowing ability effecting eating or drinking?
  • Does the community provide adaptive utensils, cups, or dining ware?
  • How is food served? Is it timely or do residents wait for long periods of time to eat?
  • Is the staff skilled in hands-on support that encourages someone living with dementia to be as independent and successful as possible in eating or drinking?

Diet Modifications

Speech Therapist and swallow studies can determine when a modified diet is needed due to changes in physical or cognitive ability, which may include:

  • Adaptive utensils
  • Finger foods
  • Chopped or pureed options

Two wonderful dining adaptation programs specific to dementia support include Grind Dining(c) and Dining with Friends.

Orchard at Athens is a luxury assisted living community located off Atlanta Hwy in Athens, GA. Orchard at Athens is an intentional community dedicated to providing physical and emotional support for people living with dementia at all states or stages of their disease progression.

Proud to offer the Grind Dining program for residents, you can be assured that Orchard will provide an optimal nutritional experience for your loved one. Please contact us to learn more about this program and other dietary questions you may have.

Choosing A Senior Living Facility

Choosing Well – A Guide To Finding An Assisted Living Facility – Part 2

There are many things to consider when choosing an assisted living facility.  Before you proceed, you may want to read Part 1 of this article on Orchard at Athens blog. Part 2  will focus on three key things to explore:

  1. Environmental Design
  2. Nutrition and Dining
  3. Activity and engagement

As you think about choosing a senior living community,  the things that you like, want and need and try to match these with the environment that can best support both your preferences and your needs. Before we proceed, make sure you also read the Part 1 article we have on our blog.

Environmental Design

A move to senior living typically means downsizing because it is helpful to simplify.  Smaller sized apartments offer personal space and community areas such as living room, dining room, exercise space, libraries, game rooms, or gardens are shared with others living in the community.

If you have ever taken a cruise, you may have experienced a similar shared lifestyle.  It’s important to tour a community to see the physical environment and notice if you feel comfortable and at home.

  • Does the community indoor space allow for freedom of movement and independence?
  • Is there an opportunity for privacy and shared experience?
  • Are both the indoor and outdoor areas are safe and secure?
  • Is the facility is easy to navigate?
  • Are there directional signs and visual cues to help the residents find their way throughout their living environment?
  • Is there a designated family visiting area?
  • Are there private areas to have confidential conversations with staff or medical practitioners?
  • Are the resident rooms clean and designed with functional supports for the resident?
  • What personal items are residents encouraged to bring with them to support their transition?

It is also very important to assess your experience of the community culture when deciding on a new place to live. When touring assisted living or memory care, notice how the employees and residents look and present themselves to you and how you observe them relating to one another.

  • Do you observe current residents to be relaxed, engaged and happy?
  • Does the staff seem hurried, stressed or pressed for time?
  • Do you notice residents and staff relating to one another in a positive way and treating one another with respect?
  • Are the families you engaged or connecting easily with the staff?

Nutrition & Dining

Meals are an important part of every day in a community because eating well-balanced diets support a healthy lifestyle.  And changes in a person’s eating habits can also signify a change in health. Dining with others offers the opportunity to connect while sharing a meal.

Be sure to take a look at the dining room, sample menus, and private gathering areas in the community. Notice if there are multiple areas provided for people who need a quieter setting to eat a meal and whether food is prepared in such a way that the aromas can be enjoyed by the residents.

Food aroma like fresh baked cookies or popcorn can ignite memories, and sometimes help a person connect about shared experiences.  And smelling brewing coffee or freshly baked bread can help to stimulate a person’s desire to eat.

For persons living with neuromuscular disorders that can make eating more challenging, Orchard at Athens offers Grind Dining; a program to help accommodate limitations,  ensure healthy nutritious options and promote independence.

It is a good idea to make an appointment and have a dining experience at a community you are considering and observe or ask the following questions:

  • Are there regular meals and snacks?
  • Is there a focus on hydration?
  • Is the food offered in an appetizing presentation?
  • Is the dining environment is pleasant?
  • Are family and friends are welcome to join for meals?
  • Does the staff have a plan for monitoring nutrition?
  • Is the family notified when a change in diet is noticed?
  • Are special dietary preferences or needs accommodated?

Activity & Engagement

Your new community may not be able to provide amenity you desire but it is important to find one that has a staff and culture committed to finding ways to partner with you. Make sure to think about how you would like to spend your day, or how you expect a loved one’s time to be guided and utilized.

  • Does the community have a designated staff to help create and facilitate the flow of day?
  • Would community schedules or routines make sense and set a resident up for a successful experience?
  • Are individual needs and personal preferences accommodated for by the staff and schedule?
  • Are there plenty of activity options for differing resident personalities or interests?
  • Are activities adapted to meet the cognitive abilities of residents with varying medical diagnosis?
  • Does engagement mean more than just leisure activity and include meaningful or purposeful opportunities for the residents?

Executive Director, Taryn Hayes takes pride in creating meaningful life experiences for families and ensures this to be a top priority for Orchard at Athens.

She loves spending time dining with residents and families, facilitating and organizing special events and activities herself, and spending one-on-one time with families asking for their ideas and sharing personal stories.

Call Orchard at Athens today and schedule a time to meet with the Executive Director and other leadership team members.  Experience for yourself this unique luxury assisted living and memory care.

Choosing Senior Living Facility

Choosing Well – A Guide To Finding An Assisted Living Facility – Part 1

Finding an assisted living can be a daunting task. Especially, when smaller cities like Athens, Georgia may have fewer senior living options.

And consider trying to make a decision when you live in a more rural area like Athens suburbs of Watkinsville, Bogart, Jefferson, Statham, Winterville, Commerce, Arcade or Hull? What considerations will need to be made when researching distance and the value of driving a little further to find quality services that will truly benefit a senior in need of more support.

Some beginning questions one might ask are:

  • How do I start?
  • What companies and resources are reliable?
  • What exactly should I be looking for?
  • What is provided for me and for my family?

Care Plans

When someone lives in an assisted living community, there should be a personalized care plan created based on doctor’s recommendations, unique needs, abilities, personal preferences, and health history.

It is extremely important for families to be involved in the creation of the care plan and have a signed copy of it.  The agreed-to plan will be charged to the resident either by an “all-inclusive” higher assisted living rental fee or will be charged as a separate “care fee” paid in addition to the apartment rent; which typically, does include some basic services. The care plan is an outline of sorts specifying “how” a community will provide personalized assisted support.

If you are currently living in an assisted living community you should have a copy and know what’s included in your care plan.  It is recommended that a communities care director review resident care plans on an annual, bi-annual or quarterly basis to ensure residents’ needs and are up to date and families are not being over or undercharged.

Some things to consider:

  • Is the resident or family encouraged to participate in care planning?
  • Are there regularly scheduled care plan meetings and are families informed of this schedule?
  • Is family contacted about changes observed by staff about the resident condition?
  • Are families encouraged to communicate with staff?

Family Support

Some assisted living communities recognize that the resident may not be the only person who needs support.  These insightful communities will make an effort to provide education or consultation services for family members.  This may include support groups, educational workshops, or online offerings inviting families to participate and learn more. Some things to consider when visiting our touring a community:

  • Is there an interest in family members?
  • Are regularly scheduled care partner support groups offered?
  • Does the community provide educational opportunities?
  • Is the family invited and/or encouraged to volunteer or participate in a community activity or sponsored public events like an Alzheimer’s Association fundraiser, for example?

State Regulations

Georgia assisted living and memory care communities are regulated by the state and have specific standards, policies, and procedures that must be adhered to.  State regulations require the minimum standard, and it’s important to confirm that your community of choice has created its own policies and procedures that go well above and beyond the required minimum. Orchard Senior Living, and its property Orchard at Athens, exceeds the minimum Georgia standards of care.

Some questions to consider when choosing an assisted living facility are:

  • What type of medical care is provided?
  • Can the resident age-in-place?
  • Is there 24-hour on-site supervision by an RN or LPN?
  • What are the staff to resident ratios and how far above the minimum state requirement are they?
  • Is personal care approached with respect and dignity?
  • Are the unique personality and abilities considered?

Staff Continuing Education

Orchard at Athens is able to offer “Spectrum of Care” support services including 2 memory care options. It might be noted that the state of Georgia requires only 8 hours of training in dementia care.

For anyone who has cared for someone living with dementia, you are aware this is not nearly enough.  Orchard Senior Living considers the training of its team members an imperative priority and is proud to provide ongoing monthly mandatory training for staff by a nationally recognized dementia specialist. Here are some questions to consider with regards to training/education:

  • Does the community see staff training as a priority?
  • Is staff training provided for every new hire?
  • What are the continuing education policies and procedures?
  • Is the staff trained specifically in dementia care?
  • What are the certifications and/or requirements for newly hired staff members?

Resident Staff Relationship

When making a decision about assisted living, resident staff relationships should be your top priority. Look for signs that a community has staff members actively interested and engaged in a relationship with its residents?

Notice the interactions and familiarity of staff and residents with one another. Typically, it will be obvious and easy to see if existing positive relationships exist. Here are some things to consider:

  • Do you observe connectivity and emotional support in addition to the necessary physical care support?
  • Senior living has a very high staff turnover.  Ask about leadership and front line staff longevity and retention?
  • Do you notice a relaxed or tense environment? Are residents comfortable, relaxed and involved?  Or distant, quite and not participatory?
  • Is there a planned flow of the day and does it take into consideration individual likes and abilities?
  • Are residents routinely greeted and engaged by staff?

Finding the right living arrangement for your loved one is easier if you know the right questions to ask.  To start the process, have a conversation with your loved one. Make a list of the things that are most important to you and your family members and compare them to the questions and suggestions in this article.

If you have any questions about what to expect from Orchard at Athens, please call now, or email the executive director or community coordinator.  We want to hear from you, would love to get your ideas and feedback, and look forward to confirming if Orchard at Athens can be part of your solution.

Aging In Place - Senior Living Options

Aging In Place – Senior Living Options

If you are considering a move, for yourself or someone you love, to memory care, assisted living or a senior living community it is important to consider services and supports that allow a person to Age in Place.

This is especially important for someone living with a neurodegenerative diagnosis like Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s because a change in the environment can be unwanted and disruptive in many situations.

What is “Aging in Place”?

Aging in Place, literally means a person is allowed to continue to rent and live in the residence of their choice for as long as they are able to even as their health and need for hands-on assistance and/or medical oversight significantly change.

State to state senior living communities are regulated by laws that govern and require safety standards and resident health criteria which can make it possible to Age in Place.

When looking at senior living in Athens, Georgia be sure to ask about licensure and admissions criteria. This will help set proper expectations for future services and support that can be provided.

Important Questions

Physical abilities typically determine whether you or your loved one can remain in a community. This is due to building safety and assurance residents would be safe in case of an emergency. Consider the following questions and be prepared to discuss these when you tour a community.

  • Does the community offer personal hands-on care assistance?
  • Does the community allow private duty care?
  • Does the person need continuous medical oversight or clinical intervention?
  • What are the limitations of the community’s medical services or affiliate clinical partnerships?
  • Is the person ambulatory?  This means they would be able to move independently or not without assistance.
  • Is the community staff trained and are there supportive devices available if the person needs assistance in transferring from a sitting or reclining position?
  • Is the person capable of self-preservation? Would they know what to do in case of an emergency with minimal guidance or direction?

One-to-One Support

Examples of valuable assistance that can prevent injury and improve daily functioning and quality of life for someone in an assisted living or memory care include:

  • Bathing
  • Shaving
  • Brushing teeth
  • Combing hair
  • Toileting
  • Dressing
  • Eating
  • Laundering
  • Cleaning private living space
  • Managing money
  • Writing letters
  • Shopping
  • Using public transportation
  • Making telephone calls
  • Grooming
  • Obtaining appointments
  • Engaging in leisure, recreational or other activities

If you or your loved one requires additional support in any of these activities of daily living, it will be important to determine your goals and priorities.

Community Culture

Based on the type of support someone’s health condition requires, you will find a variety of senior living community approaches.  Preventative and Health Maintenance

  • Compensatory and Functional
  • Curative and Restorative
  • Comfort and Palliative

Some communities include services that help a person regain a degree of function and can include rehabilitation, provide special equipment, and even offer short temporary or recovery stays.

Maintaining Current Abilities

If you are looking for senior living in Athens that is proactive about helping you maintain your current abilities you will want to find out more about:

  • Staff training
  • Consistency in staff
  • Specialized affiliate staff partners
  • Health and wellbeing programs
  • Functional and compensatory supports

Limited Abilities

Perhaps your health condition limits your physical or cognitive abilities. In that case, you would need a community that is proactive on your behalf and can provide and support you with:

  • A consistent environment
  • A predictable routine
  • Trustworthy relationships
  • Ongoing education
  • Proactive communication
  • 24/7 access to community leadership

Orchard at Athens is a new senior living community in Athens committed to changing the status quo of assisted living and memory care.

We specialize in a unique ability-based model of service that seeks to set each resident up for success to live with purpose and dignity no matter the health condition.  We look forward to learning more about your needs and goals. Contact us today for a free consultation.

Senior Living vs Memory Care

Do You Need Assisted Living or Memory Care?

Before you start your search for assisted living or memory care, consider why you are looking in the first place. There are many senior living choices in the Clarke County and Athens, Georgia area and new communities are opening every year.

It’s important to take time to ask the right questions that can help to narrow your focus. Orchard at Athens is a luxury assisted living and memory care community opening summer of 2020 and will serve families local to Athens or from surrounding areas of Winterville, Bogard, Statham, Ashland, Watkinsville or Arnoldsville.

The Orchard’s Communities within a Community model is an innovative environmental design created to decrease the stigmas often associated with moving to senior living. 4 neighborhood options give residents a more positive and life-enhancing experience.

Below are a variety of reasons why someone looks for senior living community.

Social-Emotional Need

If you are looking for social-emotional support, look for a community that provides a true variety of ways to become and stay engaged inside and outside of the community. Here are some things to consider when searching:

  • Does the senior living community provide transportation and assistance opportunities to local community events and entertainment?
  • Is the community located in an area that has easy access to local activity and outings such as shopping, restaurants, theaters concerts, museums, health clubs, senior centers, etc?
  • Does the community provide thought-provoking and inspiring entertainment and education on-site from the local community?
  • Does the community provide spiritually nurturing opportunities or participate in local philanthropic and charitable events?
  • Does it provide a wide range of interesting activities and options to meet and socialize with others? These options should be more than leisure activities and should include education, social, cultural, and personal opportunities for the residents to decide and be a part of

Physical Need

If you are looking for physical support, look for a community that has onsite staff specializing in rehabilitations such as physical, occupational, or speech therapies. Therapy, exercise, and adaptation of personal environments when needed promote confidence and independence.

To meet the range of personal preferences you will find in an assisted living there should be a very wide variety of opportunities that encourage active movement indoor and outdoor, privately or with others, and with guidance through facilitated appointments or group classes and workshops.

Activities of Daily Living

If you are looking for a community to support with daily living tasks, ask about the training of team members who provide hands-on assistance and the protocols for determining resident to staff ratios. Find out if they have 24-hour services and a licensed nurse or medical director? It’s also important to know if residents can age in place in the community.

Aging in place means an approved state of Georgia license and capability to support someone through to the end of their life. Communities offing this service will ensure that after moving to a community of choice, residents will be able to continue to live there as long as they like and not be asked to move should health conditions change.


Amenities are important in senior living. While touring be sure to look for some of the following:

  • Salon and Spa
  • Bistro or Cafe
  • Fine Dining and Rooms for Private Events
  • Exercise Equipment and Class Offerings
  • Medical and Therapeutic Affiliate Partners
  • Personal and Group Transportation

Looking for senior living options can be overwhelming as many communities have similar services and options. Before you begin, take a moment to make a list of the reasons why you are considering a move.

Orchard at Athens understands the complexity of making such a change. We have a team standing by to learn more about what you’re looking for and if we can help. We have learned from experience that knowledge is power, your purpose is critical, and partnering changes everything.