Congregate meals have the following benefits for people
Sense of Community
People who regularly participate in congregate
meals feel a sense of community and connection with their
peers. Research shows that people at any age are much more
fulfilled when they are part of a group.
Decrease of Alzheimer’s and
Socializing as little as 30 minutes per
day has been shown to increase brain health and cognitive
ability that decreases the likelihood of brain diseases
such as Alzheimer’s and dementia. It’s the old
adage of use it or lose it.
Seniors with a sense of purpose are happier,
more fulfilled and healthier. Congregate meals give seniors
a daily activity to look forward to. The social interaction
provides an environment where peer to peer interaction takes
place that leads to seniors becoming emotionally vested
in the group. Seniors are able to contribute to other people’s
lives on an individual and group basis leading to a great
sense of purpose.
Positive Relationships Leading to
Healthy relationships formed during congregate
meal times have been proven to decrease stress and loneliness.
Negative emotions such as stress have been linked to high
instances of sickness and disease because they cause the
body to release cortisol that eventually breaks down the
immune system. Stress has been directly linked to high blood
pressure, heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Many seniors suffer from malnutrition because
of unhealthy, unbalanced meals. Congregate meal plans are
always hot and nutritious and meet nutritional standards.
Seniors who come for the great conversation and activities
will also get a well-balanced and great tasting meal.
Decrease in Stress
Congregate meal programs provide participants
with a sense of structure that leads to a reduction in stress.
Seniors tend to thrive on routine and structure. The best
life for an elderly person one is one that is predictable
and stable. Seniors who live in unpredictable environments
live in fear and are far more insecure. Fear and insecurity
cause elevated levels of stress that is deadly to emotional
and physical well-being. When stress is reduced the body’s
systems function better, particularly the immune system.
A congregate meal program provides a sense
of stability for the senior. They can count on going to
the program and having their physical and emotional needs
met which brings about a great sense of satisfaction.
Increased Cognitive Function
Congregate meal programs offer multiple
ways for seniors to mentally engage. There’s great
conversation, engaging activities, and helpful speakers
who discuss relevant subject matter relating to seniors.
All of this activity forces the senior to utilize their
minds and keep them active. Research shows that seniors
that have low mental stimulation lose cognitive ability
because their brains’ synapses and dendrites actually
lose the ability to function which leads to decreased cognitive
As you can see there are several benefits
of congregate meal programs at senior centers. The emotional
and physical benefits these programs provide have a real
impact on the seniors who participate in them.