Happy mealtimes are the holy grail in any setting. I recently met an amazing group at Age UK and John’s campaign who invest heavily in their residents’ experiences around food.
Supporting clients to live the lives they want to live in the comfortable and reassuring surroundings at home is what we do. Sometimes homes seem unsafe to onlookers and some adjustments may need to be made, but most of what we do revolves around mealtimes for good reason.
When our carers help people to cook for themselves, memories come flooding back, senses are stimulated and good nutrition is more accessible.
Resourceful use of mealtimes
Our carers are resourceful and skilled to reignite an interest in food leading to great nourishment. It can be a slow process lasting several weeks discussing food memories and habits. We hear people admit to hating ‘ping meals’, delivered meals and pre-cooked meals for one, even though family may have bought a microwave specially or spent hours organising deliveries.
Our series of slow cooking recipes, 14 recipes that our care teams tried and tested with our clients, were reproduced with the imperial measurements clients know and love. You can see them here https://www.seniorshelpingseniors.co.uk/tis-season-slow-cook/ The smell of bubbling stews, which clients know are economical and full of nourishment, warms stomachs and hearts.
The whole mealtime experience
Malnutrition task force is an independent group of experts across health, social care and local government united to address avoidable and preventable malnutrition in older people. As part of Carers Week 2016, they asked us for some suggestions on how we rekindle an interest in food when a loved has one gone off meals or lost confidence in the kitchen.
The whole mealtime experience is one of the most important contributions to an elderly person’s health and happiness. But what can you do if your loved one with dementia is struggling in the kitchen, or not sure what to cook? Here are some ideas
Now, Derek Fisher, from Hertfordshire, has provided his valuable Mealtime tips for us
Derek is a dementia advocate and activist shares some tips from his 20 years working in care and dementia specifically: MEALTIMES AND FOOD IN DEMENTIA CARE
Mealtimes can be a daunting time for a person living with dementia. But it does not have to be that way.
Make mealtimes fun by having music playing in the background. Make the area where the person with dementia eats, light and airy. Have some family photos on display as this can create a calming image and it can be talking point over the meal. Chat to the person during the meal and make the conversation light-hearted and jolly.
It is good practice to have a meal at the same time as the person with dementia. This puts you both on an equal footing. Mirror imaging is useful. When you eat it is clients will follow suit and the experience will be social. Eating the same foods saves a possible confrontation.
Try to keep to regular times to create a routine in the day and the system regular. I have to admit that this is not always possible due to circumstances but it’s worth trying.
What to eat?
Nourish by dietician Jane Clarke is a great resources on nourishment and foods to support different conditions.
In general, A Mediterranean diet is highly recommended. Fresh fruit, veg and salads. Oily fish, pasta and chicken are very good as are cereals. It is very important to remain hydrated also. Water tops the list. Pure fruit juices are good. Try to limit caffeine intake from tea and coffee. Moderation is the key but coffee is ok once in a while. Try to avoid sugary drinks.
If the person with dementia finds it hard to have a glass full of drink, try filling the glass half way in the first instance. If they finish that then fill it half way again.
Never over fill a plate with food. Best to give slightly smaller portions. An overfilled plate will tend to be a mission impossible to the person with dementia and they could easily lose interest and react to bad memories of not being able to finish food.
It is very important to know that if the person with dementia finds it hard to swallow foods then a food thinner is strongly advised. Seek out the help from your GP on this issue.
Brain foods include
Vegetables such as leafy greens, kale, spinach and broccoli.
Salmon, halibut, tuna, mackerel and sardines.
Berries such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and raspberries.
Nuts but not salted peanuts. Walnuts are very good.
Coffee and chocolate in moderation. Coffee is good for the brain in moderation.
Extra virgin oil
Foods to avoid
Smoking and drinking in excess
It’s good practice to serve the person with dementia foods that they used to like in past times. Maybe a favourite pudding or pie. A certain dessert they used to like. Do some research into the person’s food likes and dislikes. It may take a while but persistence pays off. It is ok to indulge the person with a few naughties at times. . The whole secret is moderation.
Always make the plate colourful as this is eye catching and appealing. Lots of different coloured seasonal foods are a good option. Use colourful cutlery and a bright table cloth and a napkin. Where possible try to avoid red plates as this is like putting a rag to a bull sometimes. Pastel shades or lightly patterned plates are best.