The Importance of Eating Well: How Caregivers Can Help

One of the key areas that caregivers can impact is nutrition. All clients can be at risk for deficiencies in their diets for various reasons.

Reasons for Diet Deficiency

  • inability to chew or swallow
  • poor or decreased appetite
  • loss of taste buds
  • nausea or fatigue
  • lack of access to food or cooking
  • depression or loneliness

Hands-on caregivers are in the best position to assess each client and determine how to provide essential nutrients in a way that will be satisfying and tasty. If a client is eating two or fewer meals a day, the caregiver should step in to prevent malnutrition.

Here are some tips to make meals and snacks more pleasant:

Reduce dry-mouth by avoiding caffeine, as well as spicy or salty foods. Keep lips moist by applying lip balm or petroleum jelly. Offer frequent sips of water or an electrolyte fluid.

Make the meal setting appealing by removing bedpans, urinals, or other sources of strong odors.

If the client has pain, give analgesic medications before the meal.

Assist the client to eat sitting up or at a table, if possible. When assisting with feeding, sit at eye level and make eye contact.

Try to offer a variety of fresh foods before giving a liquid supplement.

When assisting with a client who is ill or has a poor appetite, try these hints:

Encourage high calorie foods that are easy to eat: pudding, ice cream, and yogurt are both nutritious and delicious.

Eating small amounts throughout the day can be effective. Start with four to six small meals.

Ask the client or family when the appetite is best, and make sure to offer food at those times.

Make sure the food aroma is appealing.

Add protein, fruit, or vegetables to milkshakes.

If television or music serves as a distraction, the client may eat more.

If you want more information about the importance of eating well, just contact us. We are available to assist with all caregiving concerns and needs.

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