Some seniors have difficulty feeding themselves because of conditions that make them unable to use their hands or arms or because of cognitive decline. Meal times can be frustrating for both the senior and the person providing senior care. For a family caregiver, it can also be awkward to have to feed your parent who once fed you as a child. If you have some trouble with meal times, employing certain techniques or using adaptive devices to help your parent eat independently can make eating easier and more pleasant for both you and your parent.
Meal Time Tips.
Below are some tips to remove some of the awkwardness and frustration from meal times:
- Allow Time. Eating can be a very slow process for seniors, even when they do have use of their hands and arms. Go into the process knowing that your parent will take some time and allow ample time in your schedule. If you rush your parent, they are likely to feel like a burden and may eat less than they should.
- Keep Talking. If you feel strange feeding your adult parent, talking can ease some of the tension. Even if your parent cannot talk back, just chatting about your day, something you read, or what’s going on in your life will occupy your mind and can make your parent feel more relaxed, too.
- Check the Temperature. Make sure the food is not too hot so that it doesn’t burn your parent’s mouth. Also, make sure warm foods are warm since eating them cold may be unpleasant.
- Prepare the Plate Ahead. Cut up food before bringing the plate to the table to make meal time quicker.
- Offer a Drink. Don’t forget to offer your parent a drink after every couple of bites.
There are several adaptive eating devices available through medical supply stores and online retailers. Your parent’s doctor or therapist may be able to suggest devices that will work best for your parent. Adaptive eating devices include:
- Utensils. Weighted utensils are useful for seniors whose hands shake. There are both complete weighted utensils available and handles that slip over your own silverware. If your parent does not have tremors, but has difficulty with grip, foam sleeves that slide over the handles of utensils make them easier to hold. There are also utensils with clips and straps to attach the utensil to the senior’s hand.
- Plates and Bowls. If your parent has trouble with food sliding off the edge of the plate, there are bumper guards that can be attached to plates as well as bowls with a lip around the top of the bowl. You can also purchase non-skid devices to keep plates and bowls from sliding around on the table. These come in the form of mats, gripper feet, and suction bases.
If your parent has difficulty eating and you worry about them being able to have a meal while you are at work or tending to other responsibilities, hiring a senior care provider could help. A senior care provider can visit your parent’s house at meal times to prepare a healthy meal and assist your parent with eating. Senior care providers are available through agencies to come in for just a few hours during the day, for a full day, or even overnight.
If you or an aging loved one are considering senior care in Bellaire, TX, contact the caring staff at Personal Caregiving Services at 832-564-0338. Providing Care in Houston, Bellaire, West University Place, Katy, and Sugar Land and the surrounding areas.
In 1989 after selling his family owned food service business, Mr. Gerber pursued his compassion for the elderly by completing his geriatric education and training requirements to be a licensed nursing home administrator (LNFA) from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston.Previously he received his undergraduate business degree from the University of Texas at Austin and his Masters in business administration (MBA) from the University of Houston.In 2003, Mr. Gerber earned his Certification to be a Senior Advisor (CSA).
Sid Gerber is a Google Verified Author
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