By Roger Least

The much-buzzed-about “silver tsunami” poses major opportunities for the senior-living industry. In 2022, the U.S. assisted-living market size was valued at $91 billion and is expected to grow at an annual rate of 5.5 percent from 2023 to 2030. From a population standpoint, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, the 75 to 84 age group made up roughly 14 million (29 percent) of the senior population in 2016, which is more than double the number and proportion of those 85 and older. Around 27 percent of the population is between 75 and 84.

In short, the senior-living Industry is positioned for notable growth as it welcomes the Baby Boomer generation into communities. With this comes a shift in thinking, consumption, and lifestyle.

As the corporate dining director at Brightview Senior Living, a company of independent and assisted-living communities in eight East Coast states, I oversee the dining experience at all 46 communities.. I work with teams who are cooking in the kitchen and serving in the dining rooms to balance nostalgic food favorites with nutrient-dense options to optimize their nutrition and overall health.

We know through research that food and community go hand-in-hand: The more often people eat with others, the more likely they are to feel happy and satisfied with their lives. Thus, from an overall health and socialization standpoint, the senior-living dining experience is more crucial than ever.

Hare the three senior living dining trends we’re seeing:

  1. Introducing a reservation system: We learned of the dangers of isolation during quarantine due to COVID-19. In fact, social isolation was associated with about a 50 percent increased risk of dementia, according to the national Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Meals, particularly dinner, are often the highlight of our residents’ day. To make dining an even more enjoyable social event, we have implemented a reservation system to secure their table in advance and invite their friends to join them, We’re rolling this program out as needed in some of our communities, and so far, the response has been positive.
  2. Composting and the quest to reduce food waste: Beyond the economic benefits of eliminating food waste (as food prices continue to skyrocket), our communities are composting to promote sustainability.
    Composting nourishes soil, prompts seasonal gardening for residents, encourages residents to spend more time outdoors, and sparks conservation. This is a low-cost, high-value way to promote smarter consumption, a win-win for all.
  3. Accommodating adventurous eaters and dietary preferences: We’re seeing Boomers step outside this norm for meal options. This includes seasonal food and the option to try new cuisines. We’re projecting more gluten-free, vegetarian, and Mediterranean diet options in the coming years.

The senior-living dining experience is more than preparing three meals a da.: it’s breaking bread, connecting with others, and providing a hospitality experience. As we welcome the next generation into our communities, we look forward to learning from them and catering to their needs – while maybe even getting them to try something new along the way.

Navy ship will bear Billy Frank’s name

A new addition to the Navy’s fleet will be named for a Pacific Northwest leader of Native Americans.

Navy officials announced the USNS Billy Frank Jr. will be a Navajo-class towing, salvage, and rescue ship when it’s built. The name selection follows the tradition of naming such ships in honor of prominent Native Americans or Native American tribes

Frank was a Nisqually tribal member and an iconic Native American environmental leader and treaty rights activist before his death in 2014. His promoted cooperative management of natural resources while dedicating his life to activism. He served as chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission for more than 30 years.

“I am honored for the opportunity to name a naval ship after a man who was a proponent and leader for Native American rights,” said Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro . “Billy Frank Jr. spent his life serving others, and his namesake ship will do the same as it travels around the world enabling humanitarian assistance and the maintenance of freedom.”

Say cheese

If you love cheese, the Seattle area is your kind of place.

Seattle, buoyed by its prevalence of cheese and wine events and cheese-hawking farmer markets, is number 7 on the 2023 list of Best Cities for Cheese Lovers, as determined in a study commissioned by LawnStarter. Bellevue and Tacoma aren’t too shabby, either, ranking 34th and 88th, respectively.

Seattle trails only (in order) New York City, Madison, Wis., Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C.

More details from the full study are at lawnstarter.com.

Tacoma author takes readers to 8th-century Greece

From Janet McGiffin, a Tacoma resident, comes a story of two young women who join forces to survive the dangers and power of the Roman Empire of the East, and a city that is very much a man’s world.

The book series is about the Byzantine era in 8th-century Greece and the woman, Princess Irini, who climbed (clawed, really) her way to power. This first book, “Betrothal and Betrayal,” introduces a young teen, Thekla.  She is impetuous, naïve, and formidable. She has been betrayed by her betrothed and her parents, who, times as they were, needed to marry her off.  They make plans to marry her to the old gravedigger in their village after Myri, her betrothed, betrays her for the second time. Horrified, Thekla sees a chance to escape from the city gates in Ikonion where she had been to meet Myri returning from war. She sees a coach leaving town and jumps on it, starting a remarkable journey to Constantinople, where she is certain she will find Myri and marry.

With McGriffin’s richly detailed description of the culture, food, politics, and relationships of the 8th century, readers can almost taste, smell and feel the emotions Thekla experiences. It is classified as Young Adult fiction (it’s historical fiction), but just as Hunger Games was read widely by all ages, so, too, will this book.

McGiffin divides her time between her apartment in Manhattan, her home in Tacoma, and her friends in Athens, Greece. The book series. “Betrothal and Betrayal” and “Poison is a Woman’s Friend” (available on BarnesandNoble.com and Amazon), is the result of her time in Greece, where she lived for over a decade.  She spent 11 years researching and writing the series. Her previously published books are murder mysteries set in Milwaukee, where she lived for a time after she graduated from the University of Washington.

Source: Lisa Otto, content coordinator for The Heart of the North End magazine.