Eating is one of the great pleasures of life. Think back to the last time that you enjoyed a lovely meal. By helping our clients continue to take joy in eating, we can promote their psychological health and protect their quality of life.
Here are some ways to make your client’s meal a pleasurable event:
- Make sure they have taken care of their biological needs before arriving at the table.
- Make sure their dental equipment (teeth) are in place and not creating discomfort or difficulty when used.
- Check to see if they are comfortable and not experiencing pain. If they report pain, notify the medical team so they can receive whatever pain relief is ordered prior to the meal.
- Make sure the table, chairs and surrounding area are clean and look welcoming.
- Ensure that food presentation should look appealing; instead of throwing food on the plate without regard, make it look like something you would enjoy eating.
- Engage in conversation with clients, or try to get the rest of their table in conversation. Food usually goes well with conversation and pleasantries. Elders in their 80’s are used to having meals with family members—that was the way everyone grouped together at the end of the day to share information. We can try to recreate a similar situation.
- Look for a small vase (unbreakable) of flowers or a centerpiece that could sit on the table. Colours on the table promote appetite, as highlighted in this article: “How Color Affects Your Perception Of Food.”
Disordered eating, long considered to affect only youth and young adults, is slowly emerging in older demographics, even into advanced age. If you would like to learn more about this emerging challenge, read “Elder Eating Disorders: Surprising New Challenge” by Juliann Schaeffer. If you suspect that a client has disordered eating, report your suspicions to your supervisor immediately.