If you’re caring for someone with memory loss, mealtime can be one of the most stressful experiences you have as a caregiver. They may not be able to tell you if they like or dislike what they’re eating, and they may eat too quickly or too slow, depending on the day. To make things easier, here are four easy ways to improve their dining experience without having to make any drastic changes.
Atmosphere: Soothe Anxiety
Noise, light, and lots of people can cause anxiety among people with memory issues. If a loved one is in a living community, make sure to ask them questions about meals and meal times in advance to know what sort of environment they will be going into when dining out. You can even visit during mealtime for observation before deciding on an establishment. By doing this, you’ll know how long it will take food to arrive after ordering and what kind of atmosphere they may experience sitting at a table with others in their situation.
Tabletops: Keep It Simple
You don’t need a massive or overly ornate table to show off your culinary skills. Find a place setting you like and use it across all mealtimes. Not only does it help avoid confusion about what food comes with which meal, but it also gives diners a sense of familiarity and warmth that will encourage them to join in and enjoy themselves. By keeping everything simple, they will never feel intimidated by multiple forks, plates, or other accouterments that would draw their attention away from enjoying their food instead of eating it.
Menus & Mealtime: Strategy Is Important
Mealtime is a crucial period of engagement for memory care aging adults. Whether they are eating in their room or out at a group dining table, menus must be simple and easy to understand. It’s also essential to present an attractive presentation. Many care providers don’t know where to start making attractive menus, but it doesn’t have to be complicated. Investing in some lovely plastic sleeves can go a long way towards improving presentation and increasing customer satisfaction.
Socialization: Get Involved
Studies have shown that one of the essential elements in senior living is how engaged golden-age adults are. There are several ways to encourage socialization at mealtime, but one of the best is to make menu buddies out of your residents. The process couldn’t be more straightforward: Draw two names at random from any resident list using a bowl or cup. That way, each person eats with someone new every time they go to lunch or dinner. And it gives everyone a chance to catch up on each other’s lives! Make sure your kitchen staff knows about menu buddies. Let them know that these two residents need to sit together to enjoy their meals together without having to worry about finding someone else.