For this edition of #CaregivingHacks, see what Eliza has been sharing on our Instagram page about caring for her grandmother, who has dementia. These hacks were tested (and approved!) by her grandmother, but we think caregivers & care receivers of all ages will enjoy success with them too. Bon appetit!
Separate courses for decreased appetites.
If the person for whom you care doesn’t have much of an appetite, try giving them their meal in separate “courses.” That way, they are more likely to take at least a bite each time you bring another dish out, therefore (hopefully) getting more food than if it was all presented at once.
My grandmother has been sick recently, and this has caused her to lose her appetite. She has always been somewhat of a foodie, loving to snack and never saying “no” to dessert, so this is a new challenge for us.
I’ve found that if I bring her dinner out all on one plate, she’ll take one bite and say she doesn’t want it, but she’ll do the same thing with each new dish.
So I break the meal up into a few small dishes and bring them out one by one, giving her her water to sip between each dish, and that way she’s getting about 5+ bites of food and 5 sips of water, as opposed to the 1 bite that she would’ve taken before! Still not where we need to be, but much closer than no food at all.
White dishes make a difference!
If the person for whom you care has any vision impairment, try to serve his/her food on a solid white plate. This makes it easier to differentiate what is food and what is not. You can see from the two pictures how difficult it is to see the salad on the patterned plate, and how much more of a contrast there is between the food and the white plate.
No more muscle wasting.
If your loved one isn’t getting enough protein, try mixing a protein drink or powder in with something they already enjoy (and something that has a strong flavor).
I mix a vanilla protein drink in with my grandmother’s coffee. She likes a sweet creamer in her coffee, and since this drink is sweet it works perfectly! She gets more protein first thing in the morning, and the flavor of the coffee is strong enough that she can’t taste the protein drink.
You can get innovative with the powder as well, such as mixing it in with pancake batter or oatmeal! We also try to incorporate beans and meat into every dinner she eats for a natural source of protein.
Did you know that a lack of protein can cause wounds to take longer to heal, and can cause one’s body to take protein from skeletal muscles (muscle wasting) among other issues? Protein is a vital part of any diet, especially the diets of anybody eating less, moving less, or with muscular/mobility issues.