Imagine you could no longer eat your favorite foods.
What if you could only safely eat foods that you did not recognize, didn’t smell good, taste good or were too dry, foods that were not at all appetizing?
What if you could only eat foods with a spoon, or worse yet, if you needed to wear a bib and be fed by someone else by spoon?
Up to 68% of residents in long-term care facilities have difficulty swallowing and this is what many of them live with on a daily basis.
But they don’t have to.
Here are seven simple things you can do to bring dignity back to the dining room for people who need modified diets and assistance eating.
- Offer a variety of appetizing foods, foods that are colorful and recognizable, foods that are full of flavor, offer residents their favorite foods.
Research shows that when you recognize the food on your plate, the brain sends signals to the stomach to get ready to digest that particular food. It’s important to know what you’re eating to get the maximum nutrition and benefit from it.
2. Offer foods that can be eaten with a fork or finger foods.
Being fed can make you feel like a burden and turn eating into a mechanical process. There’s no enjoyment in that. Offering foods that can be eaten with a fork or fingers can promote independence in eating (benefiting residents and staff).
- Use red dishware to help stimulate the appetite.
The red shows the contrast between food and drinks and allows residents to more easily recognize them. See your local medical supply store to see samples.
- Make it social – bring people together in a group setting.
People tend to eat more when they are in a group vs eating alone.
- Offer dining scarves instead of bibs.
Check out these elegant dining scarves from Diner Wear.
- Comb hair and brush teeth.
A group of nursing home residents was asked what was most important to them in their daily routine. Their answer? Having their hair combed and teeth brushed. Helping a person with dementia maintain their appearance can promote positive self-esteem.
- Refer to residents who need assist as “Dependent Diners” – NOT “feeders.”
Consider the language you use to refer to residents that need assistance. Referring to someone as a “feeder” is dehumanizing and disrespectful. “Dependent Diner” is a much more elegant and respectful term.
These simple changes can be easily incorporated into your daily dining program, bringing dignity back to those residents on modified diets and who need assistance with eating.
For more information on the pureed foods featured in these photos, go to: www.dysphagia-gourmet.com