If the person you are caring for is unable to eat because of physical restrictions or they have difficulty swallowing. In this video learn how to help them eat or drink so that they can consume the nutrition they need.
When someone has difficulty swallowing or using their hands or arms, they may need help with eating or drinking.
Dealing with a swallowing difficulty can be both frustrating and frightening. This video can help you increase your confidence and become more comfortable helping someone eat.
In this video we’ll talk about the common areas the person you’re caring for may need help with, mainly swallowing and in mobility issues.
If the person you’re caring for has problems with swallowing or chewing, you may need to learn how to make their drinks thicker or help to break down their solid foods.
Usually a speech-language pathologist, doctor or dietician will help make decisions about what will work best.
If they need thickened fluids, there are three main types;
- Nectar thick (like maple syrup),
- Honey-thick and
- Pudding thick (like yogurt)
For solid foods, they may need a soft food diet which will usually require a mushy food preparation like overcooked veggies or mashed potatoes.
You’ll avoid tough meat or foods that are chewy, dry or crunchy.
They may also need a minced food diet where food is broken down into cubes smaller than 1cm, and a pureed food diet, where the food is blended until smooth.
Regardless if they need to have a special diet like this, their health care provider can help you learn how to properly prepare their meals.
If the person you’re caring for has a hard time holding utensils or seeing food on their plate there are a lot of assistive devices that you can try so that they can do as much as they can for themselves.
Angled or padded grips for cutlery, plate guards, cups with a handle and cut out cups are some of the types of assistive devices that can help.
If they have a hard time seeing food on their plate, using brightly coloured dishes can make it easier to see the food.
Sometimes even with all of these devices, the person you’re caring for will need help. Here are some simple steps you can follow to help them.
First, have them sitting up as straight as they can with their head forward and their chin down. Leaning or slouching can make it easier to choke.
Making sure you’re in a comfortable position is also important. Try sitting with your dominant hand closest to them while you face them. This helps stop you from overreaching.
You can use a hand towel to cover their shirt or just to have nearby in case of spills.
Offer small bites and try not to rush, using a spoon can be easier than using a fork.
Let them guide you. They can let you know which food they’d prefer to have first or when they’d like a drink. Sometimes when someone has speech problems, they’ll open their mouth to signal they want more food or if they think you’re moving too slowly.
Take your cues from the person you’re caring for.
If you’re helping them drink, a cup you can see through makes it a lot easier. Using a cut-out cup like this can also help.
When they’re finished eating, help them get washed up including brushing their teeth.
If they have issues with swallowing, it’s best to stay sitting for at least 30 minutes after they eat.
Helping a person to eat is literally lifesaving. Working to develop this skill will make mealtimes less stressful for you and the person you’re caring for.
Be sure to check out our CareChannel for more caregiver support & resources.