Do Assisted Living Communities Permit Residents to Eat In Their Rooms?

Mealtime, menus, and food service are among the most significant considerations for seniors considering living in assisted living or living in this type of long-term care senior community. A good deal is written about communal dining in an assisted living community. With that said, if you consider moving into assisted living, you may wonder whether or not you are permitted to eat in your living area. In this article, we discuss several issues associated with eating in your own individual living space in an assisted living community. These are:

  • Types of individual living spaces in an assisted living community
  • Overview of eating in living units
  • Preparing your own meals in assisted living
  • Having dining room meals delivered to your living unit
  • Outside restaurant food delivery
  • Food in assisted living units contrasted with memory centers

Types of Individual Living Spaces in An Assisted Living Community

Assisted living communities come in various “shapes and sizes.” For example, large assisted living communities are home to hundreds of residents. At the other end of the spectrum, there are small assisted living residences where less than 10 people reside.

Generally speaking, the types of individual living units that might be found in an assisted living community include:

  • One-bedroom apartments
  • Studio apartments
  • Private rooms
  • Shared rooms or semi-private rooms

A larger assisted living community is more likely to have a wide array of different types of living unit options. On the other hand, a smaller residence-like assisted living community is apt to feature single rooms, perhaps even shared ones.

Rules regarding maintaining, preparing, and eating food in an assisted living community are driven to some degree by the type of living unit in question – apartment, private room, and so forth. Other factors come into play which is discussed more fully in this article.

Overview of Eating in Living Units

Generally speaking, residents are permitted to eat in assisting individual living units. This extends to apartments and private and semi-private rooms.

The type of living unit in which an assisted living resident resides dictates the nature of food that can be stored in that space. For example, if a resident lives in a fully outfitted apartment in an assisted living community, that person can store pantry food items but also those than need to be frozen or refrigerated.

Some rooms in assisted living come with small refrigerators. This arrangement expands the type of food that can be kept in a living unit at a particular assisted living community.

Before deciding to move into an assisted living community, you need to determine what type of living unit you will obtain. In addition, you will want to learn the rules and procedures regarding food maintained in a living unit and protocols for eating in a living unit.

Preparing Your Own Meals in Assisted Living

Depending on the nature of your living unit, the possibility of preparing your own meals in assisted living certainly exists. Many people do enjoy preparing their meals – at least some of the time. Therefore, if this is an experience that you want to continue into your Golder Years and you are considering assisted living, you will want to look into what alternatives are available to you in the way of living units in the form of appropriately outfitted apartments.

One of the benefits of assisted living when it comes to meals and preparing your own is that you have more flexibility in this regard. In other words, like many people, there may be more than a few days on which you’d rather not deal with cooking. In assisted living, you have healthy and tasty meals at your disposal every day, meals that you don’t have to prepare.

Having Dining Room Meals Delivered to Your Living Unit

While you might be a person who takes advantage of eating in the dining area at an assisted living community, there may also be days or specific meals that you would prefer eating in your room or apartment. A typical assisted living community offers the ability for a resident to have meals delivered to their rooms or apartments as desired or needed.

Some assisted living communities offer no additional charge for meal delivery. Other communities charge a nominal delivery fee. Another derivation is a certain number of free meal deliveries each month and then a nominal fee for meals beyond that number included in the base fee charged by a community.

Outside Restaurant Food Delivery

If you are a resident of an assisted living community, you can continue to enjoy food deliveries from your favorite restaurants if you are so inclined. This includes taking advantage of food delivery apps like DoorDash or GrubHub. Typically, these deliveries will be made to the reception desk in a facility and brought to your room by staff or picked up in the lobby or common area by you (in the interests of facility security)

Food in Assisted Living Units Contrasted With Memory Centers

We comment on the difference between assisted living apartments or rooms and those found in a memory center. A comparison of apartments in these two types of senior living facilities is illustrative. For example, in an assisted living community, an apartment likely will have a fully outfitted kitchen, with a stoke and oven.

Due to the challenges presented by an individual with a cognitive issue like dementia, a similar apartment in a memory center apartment may have a kitchen. However, the kitchen will have appliance limitations and will not likely have a stove or oven. This is because stoves or ovens frequently injure people with cognitive issues. They even neglect to turn them off.

Finally, assisted living typically provides considerable freedom regarding meals and eating in your own living space. The key is understanding the practices, rules, and protocols of a particular assisted living community before moving in.