Elder Care Tips: Eating Safely

Posted: 10/29/2015 1:26 PM by Interim HealthCare
Eating is a daily element of your elderly care routine with your aging loved ones, and many caregivers take this activity for granted as simply something that they do to keep their bodies healthy and strong. Many health conditions, however, can make eating a more challenging task for seniors, putting them at risk when they sit down for a meal or snack. Understanding the challenges that they face while eating can help you implement changes to your mealtime and snack time approach so that your parents can continue to enjoy the wide range of healthy and delicious foods that they love safely and comfortably.

Seniors with Alzheimer's disease or other forms of dementia are often at the highest risk of dangers associated with eating, but other health concerns, including swallowing difficulties and dental problems causing tooth or jaw pain, can also make the process of eating more dangerous for your seniors. Use these tips, and share them with your seniors' caregiver, to help them eat safely:

Take your time. Seniors with chewing, swallowing, or other eating problems should not be ones who frequently eat on the go. Trying to rush meals or snacks, or multitask by eating while traveling or doing other tasks only increases the risk of choking or other concerns. Plan meals and snacks for points during the day when you have plenty of time to stop, sit down, and focus on the task of eating.

Choose foods carefully. Choose the foods that you give to your aging loved ones carefully so that you are addressing their eating limitations while also ensuring that they get the full range of nutrients that they need on a daily basis. It is easy to fall into a pattern of only eating the same few things because you know that they are easy for your parents to eat, but this can dramatically reduce their nutritional intake and even reduce their appetite, making it so that they do not eat enough to keep themselves healthy and strong. Ask their doctor about the different textures that are appropriate for them and for recommendations for foods you can present to create a full nutritional range while keeping them safe.

Thicken with care. Thickening foods and beverages is one of the most effective ways to help seniors with swallowing problems consume enough foods and beverages on a daily basis. Very thin foods and liquids are challenging to control in the mouth and can be hard to swallow, increasing the risk of choking. Adding food thickening products or natural thickeners such as tapioca powder allows your parents to enjoy their favorite flavors but with a texture and consistency that is much easier for them to handle.

Avoid garnishes. It is said that you eat with your eyes first, and while you may want to give your parents beautiful, appealing food, adding non-edible garnishes or garnishes that would be difficult to eat, can be dangerous. The same goes for elements of the food that must be removed prior to eating, such as bones. 

If you have an aging loved one in need of elder care contact Interim HealthCare today.