Supplying dietary services to nursing care facilities can be challenging in many different categories. Aged care workers working with memory-challenged residents know that providing a nutritious, balanced diet while maintaining a resident’s body weight, hydration, general well-being, and appetizing interest can be exhausting. Powerlink has prided its efforts on achieving high levels of success by developing a great selection of choices in the category of ‘finger food.’ This term covers a whole category of prepared meal foods that can travel with residents and be consumed over a longer time.
Achieving a balanced diet for people with varying stages of dementia and challenged memory is often very challenging, especially as their condition progresses and their ability to verbalize decreases. People with dementia may lose weight for many reasons: they may forget if they have eaten, or they may no longer be able to recognize some foods or recognize food at all.
One of the biggest things that impact dementia patient’s dining experience is the ability to eat independently.
One of the biggest things that impact dementia patients’ dining experience is the ability to eat independently. Memory-challenged individuals often have limited focus and become distracted before completing a task. For residents who have physical limitations or are in memory care, eating can be a frustrating or embarrassing task.
One of the biggest things that impact dementia patients’ dining experience is the ability to eat independently. Memory-challenged individuals often have limited focus and become distracted before completing a task. For residents who have physical limitations or are in memory care, eating can be a frustrating or embarrassing task. A finger food program is one of the best ways to improve the dining experience for dementia patients who may have difficulty using utensils. Finger foods don’t require a fork and knife and may encourage residents with dementia to eat more often and more independently.
Excellent finger foods include sandwiches, wraps, fruits, veggies, cheese cubes, meatballs, and pastries. These easy, portable snacks will help them eat how, when, and where they want.
Powerlink created finger foods menus to help residents with dementia eat with more dignity and independence. This strategy aims to restore a sense of satisfaction and autonomy to your residents’ dining experience while maintaining nutritional demands guaranteeing each resident’s requests. Homes with Powerlink’s finger food menu see increased independence, increased self-esteem, and reduced weight loss and malnutrition. Some menu items from this program include stuffed roasted mini peppers, mini loaded baked potatoes, mac & cheese croquettes, and salmon cakes. These finger foods are provided to residents at mealtime so people can easily access them whenever they want.
This program considers an individual resident’s prescribed therapeutic diet, food preferences, and other nutritional concerns. Powerlink’s Registered Dietitians work closely with your community’s healthcare team to determine if the menu is an appropriate strategy for individual residents. Then, we give your facility a full spectrum of resources to help you serve a variety of finger food menu items.
Miniature versions of foods are often better than cutting up more oversized items, as this creates a more stable product that is less likely to fall apart. Finger foods are generally not expensive – the goal is to use essential ingredients to make small, flavorsome items.
Many kinds of foods provide examples of finger foods that could be adapted for older residents – antipasto from Italy features a range of meats and vegetables, as does yum cha (or diӑn xin) from China. Meze – finger foods common to the Mediterranean, Balkans and parts of the Middle East– are often moist and combine grains, dairy (yoghurt and cheeses), meat and vegetables.
While achieving all the required nutrients on a finger food diet is possible, fiber and folate are often low as food items such as breakfast cereals, and leafy green vegetables are more challenging to adapt. If you are considering commencing a finger food menu for someone you care for, alert the person’s medical care or dietitian so that micro-nutrient levels can be monitored if required.
Ideally, finger foods are served at room temperature (with hot foods allowed to cool) or comprise non-perishable ingredients. The composition of foods will depend on how well the person with dementia is eating. If they are content to eat at a dining table, then hot and cold foods can be served. A person who wanders and prefers small pieces of food across the day will benefit from a range of non-perishable foods (such as breakfast bars made with muesli) to reduce the risk of food-borne bacteria. When people are eating with their fingers, it is good to encourage hand washing and have wipes available before and after meals to minimize food contamination and gastric upset.
When implementing finger foods as part of a menu, the issue of choking needs to be considered. Remove seeds and skins, ensure soft and moist items are available for those with difficulty chewing or swallowing and continue to provide adequate mealtime supervision. Avoid toothpicks and other sharp objects.
To improve the overall dining experience for memory-challenged residents, it is vital to keep table settings minimal. Limiting distractions when it comes to the dining experience. In addition, the dining room should also be free of distractions – there should not be any television, radios, or other distracting pieces of furniture.
Keep the plate simple. Serve only one or two items at a time to not overwhelm the resident. Make sure all food on the plate is distinguishable. Make sure to ask residents regularly about their food preferences. They may develop new ones or start to dislike their old favorites.
Give them plenty of time to eat (about an hour). This gives residents ample time to chew and swallow food safely. Also, your team should always test the food’s temperature before serving. A patient with memory issues might not realize if something is too hot or too cold for them. And by all means, make the dining environment social and upbeat. When patients enjoy a quality dining experience with laughter, connection, and conversation they will likely look forward to mealtimes in the future.