Let’s Feed your Loved Ones
To feed your loved one good food is essential for good health. Your goal in preparing food is to promote your loved one’s health. When preparing food, a few guidelines must be followed. Use cooking methods that preserve color and taste, as well as vitamins and minerals. Do not add unnecessary ingredients such as large amounts of salt or fats.
Before serving the food
Help your loved one to use the bathroom and wash their hands; this will help your loved one to have a pleasant mealtime. Serve foods at the desired temperature, make meals more appealing, and pick foods with high nutrients and calories for better taste if the diet allows. Try to offer a variety of meals; no one wants to eat the same thing every day. Always keep your loved one company when eating—it will help them feel more comfortable. Finally, allow them as much time as needed to eat.
How to feed your Loved One
- Utensils: knife, fork, and spoon
- Dishes, bowls, cups, glass
- Napkins (2)
- Towel or bib
- Any other special utensils
Procedure to feed your loved one
- Explain what you are going to do.
- Wash your hands.
- Obtain the materials listed above.
- Prepare your loved one for the meal:
- Offer to assist with going to the bathroom.
- Offer to help your loved one with washing their hands.
- Position your loved one to sit up in the bed or a chair.
- Place a table or bed tray over your loved one’s lap so they can see and reach the food.
- Sit near them.
- Cut food, and butter bread, pour and prepare liquids as needed.
- Ask them what they would like to eat first.
- Please encourage them to do as much self-feeding as possible.
- Feed your loved one bite at a time. Use a spoon and fill it only half-full according to the ability to chew and swallow.
- Alternate solids and liquids. Use a straw for drinking.
- Talk pleasantly with your loved one and encourage them to eat. Offer praise.
- When your loved one is finished, remove their napkin or bib and wipe their mouths.
- Wash your loved ones’ hands and faces.
- Offer oral hygiene.
- Make sure your loved one is safe and comfortable.
- Wash your hands.
- Wash all the dishes used for the meal.
- Clean and straighten the kitchen.
Difficulty Chewing and Swallowing
Sometimes your loved one may have trouble eating because of personal or medical problems. Poor appetite, missing teeth, sore mouth, or trouble swallowing can make chewing difficult. Also, chewing takes a lot of energy. When your loved ones’ illnesses result in low energy levels, they may find chewing to be exhausting. The act of swallowing is a complex process that requires coordination of the nerves and muscles of the throat. Saliva helps lubricate food so that swallowing takes place without effort. When your loved one does not produce enough saliva, swallowing becomes difficult. A speech therapist can teach your patient techniques to help improve swallowing.
Chewing can be difficult for a loved one for various reasons, such as age-related muscle loss, medications, or medical conditions. As a caregiver, you can help by providing soft and easily chewable foods, cutting and preparing foods into small pieces, offering a variety of textures, and providing plenty of liquids with meals. You can also work with a nutritionist or doctor to determine the best way to ensure your loved one receives the nutrition. Finally, providing a calm and comfortable meal atmosphere, such as playing soft music or keeping the environment free of distractions, can also be beneficial. Here are some tips to help.
- Prepare soft foods such as eggs, fish, and cheese for high protein sources.
- Cut food into small pieces.
- Be patient with your loved one; do not rush.
As a caregiver, it is essential to be patient and understanding if your loved one is having difficulty swallowing. You can start by assessing their current eating habits and identifying any areas of concern. It may be helpful to consult their doctor to understand any underlying medical issues contributing to their eating difficulties. It may also be beneficial to review the types of food they are eating and look for ways to make meals more nutritious while still enjoyable. Additionally, making mealtime an enjoyable and social experience by eating with them or involving them in preparing meals may help encourage them to eat. Here are some suggestions to help to feed your loved one.
- Have your loved one sit upright, slightly forward, with your chin tilted down.
- Thicken liquids to ease the swallowing process—for example, add thickening agents to hot drinks and gelatin to cold beverages.
Appetite is Poor
As a caregiver, it’s essential to find ways to encourage your loved one to eat. Here are some tips:
- Offer a variety of different foods to see what your loved one prefers.
- Try to make meals as pleasant as possible.
- Offer smaller meals more frequently throughout the day, so your loved one doesn’t feel overwhelmed by large portions.
- Ensure that the food is served at the right temperature and visually appealing.
- Encourage your loved one to try new foods and flavors.
- Ensure your loved one is getting enough fluids and nutrition so they are relaxed.
- You can consult a nutritionist or dietitian to help create a balanced diet plan.
- Ensure you provide a safe and comfortable environment for your loved one to eat in, free of distractions.
- Lastly, be patient and understanding with your loved one.
Eating can be difficult for some, and providing your loved one with the care and support they need is essential.
When your Loved One is Blind
If your loved one is blind, ask them how they would like to eat—do they want to eat a particular food first or a specific food last? Always remember, you are here to help in their home; you should ask how they would prefer things to be done. Mealtime for your blind loved one can be stressful, but you can make it a great experience if you follow a couple of crucial elements:
- Explain to your loved one where the foods are on the plate, such as the potatoes at two o’clock and the baked fish at eight o’clock.
- Keep utensils and napkins in the same place at every mealtime; that way, your loved one will become familiar with where everything is.
- Resist the urge to help unless asked to by your loved one; you want your loved one to feel as if they still can do things on their own.
Special Diets to Meet Special Needs
Treatment of your loved ones’ illness may include changes in the diet and how to feed them. This is called nutritional therapy. In combination with other types of treatment—such as medications, physical therapy, and speech therapy—nutritional therapy contributes to your loved ones’ recovery process. The kind of diet ordered by the doctor depends on the dietary needs of your loved one. Perhaps there are problems with the way the food is digested or absorbed. Or the body requires increased amounts of certain nutrients so that the healing of tissues can take place. Nutritional therapy is integral to your loved one’s overall care plan.
Modifying the Diet
The Food Pyramid forms the foundation for modifying the diet to meet your loved ones’ needs. The diet ordered by the doctor should be as similar as possible to their regular diet. Changes may need to be made in the frequency of meals, the number of certain types of foods, and the texture or digestibility of the foods consumed. When teaching your loved one and family about the modifications needed, consider food preferences, diet, budget, and available kitchen facilities to feed your loved one.
Your Role in Nutritional Therapy
Your responsibility is to prepare meals according to the diet plan. Because you will be with your loved one more than other family members, you can observe and record information about how the diet is being tolerated. Accurate record-keeping of feeding and fluids consumed is essential. Remember, the food groups of the pyramid form the foundation. The kinds of foods selected or the method of food preparation will vary according to the specific diet.
Therapeutic Diets to Feed Your Loved One
- Regular—all nutrients
- Soft—only foods that are easy to chew, swallow, and digest
- Bland—foods that are easily digested and avoid irritation to the digestive system
- High Calorie—increase calorie intake
- Low Calorie—decrease calorie intake
- Sodium Restricted—sodium intake limited
- Diabetic—the number of carbohydrates needs to be regulated
- Low Residue—limit the Residue in the colon after digestion
- High Residue—increase the rubble in the colon to cause peristalsis
- Low Fat—the fat amount needs to be modified in the diet
- Low Cholesterol—decrease the amount of Cholesterol in the blood
The above information will help to learn to feed your loved ones properly. Like many senior caregivers, you didn’t plan to be taking care of your loved one right now. Unfortunately, this leaves you unprepared to manage your stress and emotions while juggling doctor visits, medication changes, and day-to-day life. Our caregiving solutions can be tailored to your loved one’s needs, whether they live at home or are far away. With The Ultimate Caregiving Expert’s help, you can care for your loved one with compassion and dignity without neglecting yourself. Lastly, my group, theultimatecaregivingexpert.com/CareSolutions, provides many caregiving solutions to help caregivers thrive. For example, here is an article to allow for handwashing.
Caregiving can be challenging, frustrating, and highly stressful! But it doesn’t have to be that way.
- Giving care with expertise and confidence.
- Managing your loved one’s daily activities in an organized and structured way.
- Following a proven caregiving system that provides for your loved one’s needs while also giving you peace of mind.