Encouraging better eating and drinking for elderly

As people age, so does there needs too but a good diet and keeping active can help prevent any future health problems.

Eating and drinking is much more than food and fluid. Having a positive experience around food and making it more of social activity, is a key way to encourage people to eat and drink better.

Here are some keys things to consider when encouraging people to eat and drink.

Find out what someone likes to eat, when and how

It really important to ask people these questions:

  • What they like to eat and drink but ask regularly as this might change

  • What portion size they prefer

  • When they like to eat my main meal or smaller meals

  • What their favourite food and drink choices are

  • Make sure everyone knows their eating and drinking habits

Communication is important about food and fluid needs

  • Catering/kitchen staff should know of any special dietary requirements

  • Get creative with discovering what people want to eat and drink, through ‘show and tell’ sessions or taster sessions.

  • Make a note of likes and dislikes of foods

  • If unable to communicate ask for help from speech and language therapist (SALT), a dietitian or occupational therapist

Know what help to offer, so people can be independent

  • Do they have adapted cutlery, crockery, seating support?

  • Allow for extra time to eat, heated plates are useful to keep food hot

  • Allow for time to chew and swallow and give full attention

  • Make sure condiments and water are within reach

Create a positive ‘dining experience’

  • Find out what makes the best dining experience for people

  • Find out who people like sitting beside

  • Keep noise level low

  • Help people to focus on eating and drinking if there is too many distractions

  • Make sure people are comfortable and used the toilet before sitting down to eat

  • Set the table to suit peoples needs and likes

  • If someone is helping an individual to eat and drink, sit beside them and take your time.

  • If people are unable to talk, observe facial expressions and gestures to know when they are ready for more or have had enough.

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