New dining program for people with cognitive impairments

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SARASOTA- If you can no longer use a knife and fork, your dining options are limited.

“We all love to eat,” Peggy Beasley said. And when it becomes a hardship, or when it becomes frustrating to eat, what do you do, they stop eating.”

Thrive Dining at the Fountains Assisted Living Facility is designed to help those living with mental or cognitive impairments from things like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s enjoy eating again.

“We start out with warm scented towels to give them a sensory awareness,” Dining Service Director Paul Ebaugh said. “And then we give them some sorbet which gets the salivatory glands, and then we put in front of them one of our lovely gourmet dishes.”

Dishes like pot roast are made into one or two bite servings, easy to eat with your hands, and balanced to make sure residents get all the nutrients they need.

“We start with the crepe service which is the protein, the vegetable, the starch rolled into a crepe method,” Ebaugh said. “We also have the meatball method, we have an empanada method, and we have a loaf or a muffin method as well. And those are all designed to be one or two bite viable packets, of protein starch and vegetable.”

Almost all of their meals can be cooked in this method, served like gourmet meals, and are delicious, so residents continue to enjoy eating.

“Not only enjoying your food,” Beasley said. “But it’s also a social aspect, so instead of residents wanting to stay in their rooms, they have the ability to go to the dining room, feel independent, enjoy the fabulous food and enjoy talking with other residents.”

The Fountains will have more Thrive Dining Tastings open to the public on November 9th and December 14th. You can RSVP to 941-929-2400.

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Samantha Sonner
Multimedia Journalist Samantha Sonner comes to the Suncoast from Las Cruces, New Mexico, where she worked as a reporter and host for KRWG TV/FM reporting on local politics, immigration, and border issues. Samantha grew up on Long Island, New York. She received her Bachelor of Science in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from Syracuse University. At Syracuse, she worked at WAER, the campus NPR station and interned at television stations in Central New York. Samantha is excited for the Florida Sunshine, and to be living so close to fantastic beaches. Feel free to follow her on Facebook and Twitter for story updates and news, or to send her story tips and ideas. You can also email her at samantha.sonner@snntv.com.