By Liz Seitz,Community Administrator, Silverado Senior Living – Lake Zurich
May 31, 2012
The care of the elderly, and especially those with dementia is a complex matter. Often, as our elders age, maintaining adequate nutrition becomes a major issue. Over the last 30 years, I have marveled at how tasteless and unappetizing nursing home food has become. Silverado’s approach to elder care impressed my staff and me.
Individuals with memory-impairment often experience changes in mealtime habits that can include a different taste in food, suppression of appetite and (in later stages) a declining ability to swallow. Difficulty eating with a fork and knife can also become a challenge as coordination begins to decline.
When caring for an individual with Alzheimer’s, dementia or any other form of memory-impairment, it is important to keep these progressive changes in mind — particularly in the mid-to-late stages, when some may find it difficult to communicate their discomforts.
Some mealtime considerations to keep in mind:
- Meals should be served in a comfortable place with as few distractions as possible.
- Take your time. Don’t try to rush mealtimes, as this could result in frustration.
- If your loved one is agitated, wait until the anxiety has passed before offering food or drinks.
- Always check food temperature, as some individuals may lose ability to judge temperature.
Another mealtime suggestion is to incorporate more finger foods. Not only is this beneficial to those who have trouble using cutlery, but also for those who experience frequent restlessness.
Considerations for those who experience restlessness:
Often times, when people with memory-impairing diseases experience heightened levels of anxiety, it is difficult for them to sit through an entire meal – preparing finger foods allows them to maintain their level of diet without having to sit for extended periods of time.
It may also be helpful to incorporate more meals with smaller portion sizes, therefore allowing for quicker meals to reduce feelings of restlessness.
Considerations for those with difficulty swallowing:
As memory-impairing diseases progress, difficulty swallowing can often persist. However taste in food may not necessarily be affected. The link below has recipes, from users around the world, specifically catered to those with difficulty swallowing. The site also provides conversion tables from solids to liquid, as well as other mealtime tips. http://www.easytoswallow.co.uk/
Although there is no “one size fits all” approach to ensuring proper nutrition for individuals with memory-impairment, the suggestions above can help overcome initial barriers. For more information on caring for individuals with memory-impairment contact Silverado Senior Living at (847) 550-3004 or email us at LakeZurich@silveradosenior.com
At Silverado Senior Living we go through great lengths to ensure that resident meals are both nutritious and appetizing. Below is a recipe for Roast Salmon and Vegetable Salad, prepared by our very own Director of Culinary Services Monica Swain.