Lots of older adults have negative connotations with food, with many finding meal times stressful and exhausting. This can be an obstacle for carers who want to make sure their residents are happy but also getting the nutrients they need to function and recover from illness.
But how can carers achieve this balance? We offer three tips to help caregivers make meal times more enjoyable again.
1. The art of plating
How food is presented is a big part of the dining experience because we eat just as much with our eyes as we do with our mouths. That’s why food that has been carelessly plated looks less inviting than food that has been carefully arranged. However, this doesn’t mean you have to artfully arrange each of your resident’s meals piece by piece.
The art of plating doesn't need to be time-consuming, complicated or expensive. To us, the art of plating means presenting the food in a visually appealing and appetising manner. Therefore, it’s obvious to say but consider how the plate looks. Is it appealing to the eye, are the edges of the plate clean and does it have good contrast in colour? This can all reduce any confusion or stress around what’s on the plate. As well as this look at the wider table, is it clear with fewer items or is there clutter?
Finally ask yourself whether you’d enjoy the dining experience. If you wouldn’t, then it is unlikely residents would.
2. Encourage community dining
It’s been proven eating as a community improves happiness levels. One of the easiest ways to encourage an interest in food is making sure your residents dine as a community — rather than alone. Making mealtimes more of a community event not only helps to tackle the lack of enthusiasm for food, it also helps reduce the feelings of isolation and loneliness that a lot of older people experience.
3. Specific meals for special dietary needs
For people with special dietary requirements, meal times can sometimes be an unenjoyable experience because the food is either too complicated to prepare or unappetising to eat. This is especially true for those who suffer from dysphagia — a swallowing condition that makes it difficult for sufferers to eat and drink food safely.
Those who have dysphagia need to ensure their food is prepared to a consistency safe for them to consume. However, in our experience when regular meals are blended together, sufferers often eat very little as it can be unappetising. In addition, blending food using a traditional home-style blender dilutes nutritional intake, often not meeting a person’s daily requirements.
That's why we've developed a unique range of dysphagia meals that allows those with dysphagia to eat with friends and family — without feeling self-conscious. Products we offer range from delicious Shepherd’s Pie to bacon sandwiches (yes, you read that right). We’ve put a lot of love and passion in to creating delicious meals for those with dysphagia.
To find out more about our texture-modified dysphagia meals, please contact apetito or order your meals online.