How to Make Mealtimes Easier for Your Aging Parent

Home Care in Bayside NY

Eating can be complicated for your elderly loved one. If it’s become a big problem for her or for you, it’s time to look at how to make meal time and eating easier for everyone involved.Home-Care-in-Bayside-NY

If Utensils Are a Problem for Your Loved One

Sometimes utensils can be a problem, particularly if your loved one has arthritis or other issues that make grasping and holding difficult. Finding adaptive utensils that your loved one can use more easily is one answer. You may also be giving your loved one too many utensils. This can make meal times awkward if your loved one starts to feel that she should be using all of the items you’re making available. Look for plates, cups, bowls, and silverware that make eating easier for your loved one rather than more difficult.

For Loved Ones with Trouble Chewing or Swallowing

If your loved one has trouble chewing or swallowing, meal time can actually be painful for her. Rule out physical problems that can be solved for your loved one first, of course. After that, you may need to make some adjustments to how you help your loved one eat. Providing plenty of water during meals can help your loved one to swallow more easily. Gravies and sauces can also help to make food easier to swallow. Your loved one may also simply need more time to chew and swallow than she used to, so leave plenty of time for meals. If she feels too rushed, your loved one may not want to eat much at all.

If Your Loved One Isn’t Eating Enough or Is Eating Too Much

Always rule out physical issues with over or under eating when it comes to your loved one. Once you have that out of the way you can start to look at what your loved one is eating and how often. Your loved one may need more frequent meals that are smaller throughout the day in order to eat just the right amount of food.

Take a look also at whether she tends to go for foods with empty calories or ones that are higher in nutritional value. You may need to mix in healthy foods with less healthy options in order to help her continue to eat enough. If your loved one simply doesn’t like how you cook, try asking other family members, friends, or neighbors to contribute some dishes.

You can also work with your loved one’s doctors and home care providers to find more individualized solutions for her particular situation.

If Your Loved One Has Dementia

Many people with dementia experience changes in their appetite and food preferences.  As the disease progresses, taste buds diminish, insulin in the brain can drop, and some people experience intense cravings for high-calorie foods.  If you have any concerns about the nutritional intake of your loved one suffering from dementia, talk to your doctor about incorporating supplements and additional minerals and supplements, like folic acid and fiber, to aid in digestion.  Taking in essential vitamins and minerals is important especially for older adults who lack vital nutrients.

Vitamin B complex is has been known to be good for cognition. Research is underway to confirm how Vitamin D may help to clear toxins from the brain. A well-balanced multivitamin along with fresh fruit such as bananas and berries, whole-grain fortified breads, and fresh vegetables, e.g. carrots and leafy greens, can reap positive results.

Another thing to consider for older adults with dementia is incorporating finger foods.  Foods that are robust and easy to hold could make mealtimes much easier.  Also, foods that are soft and easy to chew helps those that have difficulty swallowing such as, cottage cheese, apple sauce, and soups.

If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Bayside, NY, please contact the caring staff at Family First Home Companions. Serving all of Long Island. Call today: (631) 319-3961

Jennifer Benjamin
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