Care UK’s Foxbridge House care home in Orpington is providing support for family carers during Dementia Awareness Week (15th-21st May) with advice on how to help loved ones living with dementia to continue to eat well and enjoy a dignified dining experience.
Carol McCormack, home manager at Foxbridge House, explained: “According to the Alzheimer’s Society, 850,000 people in the UK are now living with dementia; and somewhere between 20 and 50 per cent of those do not eat the right foods.
“Through caring for older people in Orpington, we understand the importance of providing tasty, nutritious and well-balanced meals for people living with dementia, while also creating the right environment for mealtimes. Here we have set out some easy-to-follow top tips to share our knowledge, and to help family carers make a positive difference to the health and wellbeing of their loved ones.”
Carol’s top tips for family carers supporting people with dementia to eat well:
1. Set the scene – Your loved one will cope better with meal times if they know they are coming. Let them see you preparing food and laying the table – even better, involve them in the process. Why not try a bread maker? The smell will make everyone hungry and signal the food is coming.
2. Routines and rituals – When we support people to eat we tend to do it in the same way we like to do it ourselves. Start by understanding how your loved one likes to eat, for example some people eat everything on the plate together, some people like to eat food groups separately. You can then support someone to eat in the way they would normally, and this will make it a more enjoyable experience for both of you.
3. Make it easy – Finger foods can really help someone living with dementia. Your loved one might not have gone off their food, they might just be struggling with the process of eating, so make it as easy as you can for them. By providing bite-size foods that can be eaten with your fingers, you can eliminate any problems someone might have with cutlery or cutting up their food and make the dining experience a more relaxed one.
4. Cater to their tastes – People living with dementia may develop a particularly sweet or savoury tooth. If they will only eat crisps or sweets, this can lead to malnutrition. So, if your loved one has a sweet tooth, try adding honey when cooking carrots or parsnips; alternatively serve sauces such as apple or mint jelly on the side. You could even try baked or roasted sweet potatoes for a change. For those craving salty foods, try lime juice. It livens up the food and is far more healthy – perfect for those with hypertension.
5. Make it social – The dining experience should be made into a social experience. Sit, eat and talk with loved ones – this will encourage them to stay seated for longer.
For more top tips about healthy eating in older age, download Care UK’s Eating as we age – a recently-published free guide for older people and their family carers on how to eat well and stay hydrated in older age.
Eating as we age can also be picked up from Foxbridge House care home on Sevenoaks Road in Orpington. For more information on Foxbridge House, please call customer relations manager Amelia Moore or email Amelia.Moore2@careuk.com
Eating as we age is the latest in a series of advice guides for family carers from Care UK. For information on other available guides, please go to www.careuk.com/support-for-carers.