As dementia progresses, simple activities such as finishing a meal can become frustrating challenges. The cognitive decline that individuals with dementia experience causes several changes in the brain that can affect their ability to eat and drink without struggle. Often, their senses of taste and smell change, turning food bland and leaving them with little appetite. Motor issues can make it hard to hold utensils. In the latest stages of the disease, individuals may have trouble chewing and swallowing. These effects make dining difficult for those with dementia, and they need caregivers who understand their challenges to help them enjoy a dignified dining experience. Such a program exists at YourLife™ of Tallahassee, a memory care assisted living community in Tallahassee, Florida. Executive Director Jimmie Fay Griffin says, “YourLife™’s dining experience has taken the challenges associated with eating and dementia and turned mealtime into enjoyable, social highlights of the day. Our residents share family-style meals in each neighborhood where care staff serve and share each meal with our residents, providing cueing and assistance if needed. Aside from the compassionate attention of our staff, we’ve made dining a delight by incorporating a variety of specialized solutions for the range of dining challenges those with dementia experience.” With helpful caregivers and meal options prepared specifically to meet their mealtime needs, YourLife™ residents can enjoy meals with dignity and maintain a nutritious diet.
Meeting Dining Needs Through Specialized Programs
According to the Alzheimer’s Association®, motor problems involving using utensils, chewing and swallowing are among the greatest challenges seniors in late-stage dementia face. Difficulties such as these can make eating a frustrating and possibly embarrassing task. At YourLife™ of Tallahassee, we’ve worked to eliminate these challenges through four programs that allow residents to enjoy greater independence during mealtimes. Understanding how residents’ needs change as their memory loss progresses, we offer very specialized dining programs, featuring:
- Finger Food Program – When a resident loses the ability to dine with utensils, we provide a variety of specialized finger foods in their daily diet that allow them to dine independently and with dignity. From chicken strips to steamed broccoli florets, this program designs creative meal choices that provide optimal nutrition through menu items that are easy to pick up.
- Food-on-the-Go Program – Sometimes dementia makes it difficult to stay still long enough to finish a meal at the table. If a resident’s dining experience is interrupted by his or her need to wander or pace, we offer them food-on-the-go, which allows them to walk freely and eat at the same time.
- Altered Consistency Dining Program – Those with Alzheimer’s disease or different forms of memory loss may experience difficulty with swallowing. If that happens, we can provide altered consistency dining choices that are not only delicious and nutritious, but are also served in an attractive presentation such as parfaits, soufflés and more.
- Enhanced Dining – For those who cannot eat independently, our staff provides hand-over-hand assistance, helping residents truly enjoy their meal by assisting with serving and feeding, as well as cueing, prompting and encouraging them to do whatever they can independently.
Making Mealtimes More Pleasant
YourLife™’s specialized meal programs allow for individualized solutions for each resident to enjoy independence and dignity while they dine. In addition to these services, we strive to make mealtimes as pleasant as possible for those with dementia. We limit distractions like televisions and radios in our dining area, encouraging residents to be present with each other and enjoy the food and company. Meals become social opportunities where residents can interact with different neighbors and staff members, laughing, reminiscing and sharing events of the day. We also consider meals to be an opportune time for family to visit. Our residents’ family members are always welcome at our community to share a meal with their loved ones. Our neighborhood dining rooms are perfect for small gatherings. Families are welcome to assist with their loved one’s care or simply enjoy spending time with them.
Discover Greater Memory Care
“Exceptionally designed dining is just one of the many ways we enhance the lives of those living with dementia,” says Griffin. “To learn more about our approach to dignified memory care, reach out to YourLife™ of Tallahassee and discover the enriching care and lifestyle we offer.”
Inspired ● Engaged ● Fulfilled
If someone you love is living with memory loss, you want the very best for them. You’ll find it at YourLife™ of Tallahassee. Because Memory Care is all that we do, we have the unique ability to focus all our energy, attention and resources into creating an environment that caters to each resident’s needs, preferences and abilities while providing unequaled peace of mind and support for families. We see each resident as an individual because we understand that each resident has their own story. Using this idea, we develop personally inspired care plans that value and support each person’s independence while creating beautiful days. No matter how much care they need, our team of attentive, caring YourLife™ Personal Care Specialists can provide assistance with all activities of daily living while providing reminders, guidance, support and cues. Even better, residents and their families experience true peace of mind knowing that expert care is on site 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Our personal touch doesn’t stop at our care. In fact, it’s only just the beginning. We create days that leave residents feeling Inspired. Engaged. Fulfilled through our signature programming, YourStory. With individual experiences centered around each resident, engaging outings, services and amenities, activities, dining and more, we create opportunities to learn and pursue new endeavors. At YourLife™ of Tallahassee, everything was designed for you, but it is defined by you, creating a lifestyle that makes every day a joy. Contact us to learn more!