The dining services teams at independent living communities recognize that the spectrum of preferences, needs, and expectations that senior residents have is quite wide. Therefore, the food served in these communities reflect that, with special emphasis on nutrition, taste, variety and atmosphere. Let’s break down each element of the experience you’ll have while dining at an independent living community.


For many older adults, proper nutrition is increasingly important, and a sufficient quantity of specific nutrients is needed for you to remain healthy. You may be eating less food now as compared to when you were younger. Your medications can be a reason why you eat less. A more varied and tasty diet will help, but you should also be consciously seeking out foods that give you the most nutrition per bite.

Fruits, vegetables, lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fats, low-fat dairy fortified with vitamin D, and whole grain cereals are recommended. Then there are special dietary concerns for people with chronic illnesses, like diabetes.

At many independent living communities, registered dietitians will oversee the menu to ensure that your nutritional needs are being met, and will address any specific dietary requirements you may have.

Taste and Variety

Foods at some communities are prepared by chefs, like those at Bethesda Independent Living communities. The meals are extremely tasty, and the variety of options is ideal. For example, in addition to the two scheduled entrees, Bethesda Independent Living offers an “always available” menu of eight different entrees, a choice of six sides, and three types of salads, as well as a lighter fare of veggies and dip, a fruit and yogurt parfait, and a fruit and cottage cheese plate.

If you still have room, there are four kinds of ice cream, freshly baked cookies and a “Specialty Ice Cream of the Week.”

Many communities also offer complimentary continental breakfasts.

As a resident of an independent living community, you will have your own kitchenette in your apartment to stock with your favorite foods. Or some communities can deliver groceries to you.

Locally-sourced foods are often on the dining menu to provide the freshest foods available.

All this gives you a wide array of delicious food from which to choose while dining at an independent living community.


Dining rooms at some of these communities rival the finest restaurants. They may include multiple food stations with different offerings, beautiful lighting fixtures and flooring, and a large dining capacity.

Others offer a casual bistro dining experience, as well as private dining rooms and coffee shops.

You will be served by a professional wait staff, and in most independent living dining rooms you don’t have to sit at an assigned table or have a scheduled time to be there. According to the food service staff at Bethesda, food is seen as a means of bringing people together to celebrate every day.

Your dining satisfaction is the focus in these communities, and they encourage your feedback as a resident to keep improving your satisfaction.

For more tips on what to look for in a retirement community, visit Bethesda’s Lifestyle blog.