Feeding Older People
HOW MUCH DO YOU KNOW?
It helps to figure out how much you know before you start. In this way you will have an idea as to the gaps in your knowledge prior to reading the content. Please circle to indicate the best answer. Remember, at this stage, you are not expected to know all the answers:
1. Dysphagia means having a poor appetite.
2. Which of the following promotes the social aspect of eating?
a) Sitting next to the person while eating.
b) Allowing the person to watch TV while eating.
c) Standing over the person while feeding him/her.
d) Setting the pace of the meal for the person.
3. Tea is a good choice for people who have difficulty swallowing.
4. Mixing food together in a blender will improve the taste.
5. Mr. Taylor has difficulty swallowing. Which of the following strategies is appropriate?
a) Sit him upright during the meal.
b) Allow him to lie down when he’s finished eating.
c) Use a straw to give him fluids.
d) A and C
6. A decreased sense of smell can interfere with appetite.
7. Small frequent meals are better than large meals if the person has a poor appetite.
1. b.False. Dysphagia means difficulty swallowing.
2. a.Eating is a social activity and people may have to eat alone in their rooms. Sitting next to the person helps to make it feel like more of a social experience.
3. b.False. Thin liquids, like tea and water, can splash against the back of the throat before the person is ready to swallow.
4. b.False. Serve one food at a time rather than mixing different foods.
5. a.Sitting in an upright position when he eats or drink will help to prevent choking and allow gravity to assist the food moving into his stomach.
6. a.True. The smell of food plays a large part in our enjoyment of eating.
7. a.True. Provide small frequent meals if the person has a poor appetite.
FEEDING OLDER PEOPLE
Have you ever heard the saying “You are what you eat”? There is a great deal of truth in that statement. The foods that we eat on a daily basis have a great impact on our state of health. Nutrition is very important for good health.
Eating healthy foods helps people to recover from illness or surgery, to maintain their present state of health or to achieve a higher level of health status. Good nutrition involves more than just serving healthy meals, however. Elderly people often cannot, or do not, eat the foods they are given.
People who are away from familiar surroundings may have poor appetites. They may have illnesses or be on medications that decrease their appetites. The hospital or long-term care agencies may have unusual sights and smells. Food can be different. People lose control over food choices and how food is prepared. People in long term care residences are expected to eat when meals are served and the timing of the meal may not be what they’re used to. For many people, eating is a social activity and people may have to eat alone in their rooms. All of these factors can affect a person’s eating patterns.
Whether they’re living at home or in a long term care residence, older people frequently require assistance with their meals. They may be unable to feed themselves because of overall weakness, paralysis, or confusion. Or they may be able to feed themselves, but will need help preparing their meal trays. You can have a major impact on an older person’s nutrition by knowing how to provide assistance and encouragement at mealtime.