Friday, April 10, 2009

Breakfast Follies

I've always realized that no stereotypical picture of senior citizens fits all of us, but I'm not sure I was aware of how far out of the main stream I am when it comes to breakfast. Since I moved into The Clare about three months ago, we have had free continental breakfast in the lounge and cooked breakfasts in the adjoining dining room (part of our food allowance). The former offered a sweet roll, orange juice, and coffee, as well as fresh fruit. The latter offered bacon and eggs, ham and eggs, omelets, oatmeal, and other common breakfast goodies, as well as juice, coffee, fruit, and pretty much everything found on the usual breakfast menu.

My favorite has been the "healthy choice breakfast" in the dining room: an egg white omelet with vegetables, orange juice, whole wheat toast, and coffee--no potaatoes. I often took a piece of fruit back to my apartment, too. I've also had bacon and eggs on occasion, as well as oatmeal with raisins. The only problem is that traffic in the dining room early in the morning is nearly non-existent. The lounge was sometimes crowded; it seemed to attract far more residents than the dining room.

Ever experimenting, the Clare staff has changed the breakfast routine. First, the continental breakfast was served buffet-style at the end of the dining room and carried into the lounge. Now the continental breakfast is served in the Bistro, the casual restaurant eight floors down. A few other things are offered (for a price), but the fruit has disappeared--too expensive, they say. How does this affect me? Well, this morning I was the only one in the dining room. It's obvious that the staff is not going to keep hiring a waitress and cooks to serve me and the few others who occasionally come in.

I was surprised by this breakfast pattern. I had thought elders would appreciate the virtues of a more healthy breakfast, but rolls and scones seem to be the preferred foods. Last I knew, eggs, especially egg whites, had improved their reputation and sweets were on the no-no list. I'm still searching for answers.

Is it money? I doubt it; most residents, like me, usually fail to use up their paid food allowances, and there are no refunds. Besides, this is a group of generaly affluent seniors who can afford almost anything they want. Is it a general dislike of breakfast? Is it the bad reputation eggs have had in the past? Some people may have been warned by their doctors to avoid eggs, but I'll bet they were not told to replace them with sweets. How about a good, inexpensive bowl of oatmeal?

Perhaps the breakfast-skipping habits of younger generations have rubbed off on elders. Some residents eat large lunches in the dining room (not very many) and most concentrate on dinners. I, for one, usually skip dinner in favor of something light in my apartment. I've never enjoyed going out for dinner every evening, no matter how gourmet the restaurant. Too much food in the evening interferes with my early to bed, early to rise pattern.

Will I succumb to the continental breakfast craze? Will I start cooking scrambled eggs in my kitchen? Will I go on a crash diet? There's no chance I'll starve. As with most of the growing-pain problems at The Clare, I look at this situation with amusement and curiosity to see how things will eventually work out. I guess my tastes and interests are even more outside the elder norm than I thought they were. And yes, I support the rights of elders and everybody else to eat as they choose. I should be used to being different by now.


Pat's Place said...

I would be right there with you in the dining room for a healthy breakfast. Maybe most just want to lounge in their rooms and watch TV.

One Woman's Journey said...

I would be joining you for a healthy breakfast. Breakfast is the meal I enjoy the most. Then my lunch and a light evening meal which is early. Over the last years I do not like evening meals.
Avoid them totally unless children insist on something special. I am about to stop that. I am a morning person and that is my high energy time. When they want to do something special - I am suggesting lunch from now on.

steve gurney said...

Its all about the money, expect more of the same in other areas and in every business. Unless residents or customers are in a position to vote with their feet all communities and businesses will make changes that improve efficiency and the bottom line and not necessarily services.

It sounds from your posts that your community is not at 100% occupancy, which makes it hard to rally a large resident voice for something like this.

In Maryland, they have formed an association of retirement community residents in a variety of different communities. If offers an exchange of what is the "norm", and solutions to lobby management to make changes.

Keep eating healthy!