Getting Your Loved One to Eat:

Scott Silknitter from Caregiving 101 shared tips to make it easier to get your loved one to eat. He says the key thing to remember is to not let a discussion about eating turn into an argument or a behavior issue.

This is easier said than done as your loved one may not eat for any number of reasons:

  • They may think they’ve already eaten
  • Their taste in food may have changed since the number of taste buds they have decreases with age
  • They may not remember how to use certain utensils

Here is an example of a tactic to make eating easier:

  1. If you made turkey sandwiches for you and your loved one for lunch and they tell you they are not hungry or they already ate, just say “ok.”
  2. Then take both sandwiches, cut them into small bite size pieces and put them on one plate.
  3. Ask your loved one to join you at the table and say you have to tell them something.
  4. Start telling a story you know they will be interested in and while you are doing it, ask them if they mind if you eat because you haven’t eaten all day.
  5. Place the plate of food in between the two of you and go back to telling your story. Take bites of the sandwich and each time, pause and comment “how awesome the sandwich tastes – maybe it’s the bread, maybe it’s the turkey meat, but this the best turkey sandwich I’ve ever eaten.”
  6. This will make your loved one interested. Offer them a bite of your sandwich to see if they can tell what makes it so delicious.
  7. Before you know it, they will start eating. Let them know it’s ok for them to have as much as they want after each bite. If it works, they will have eaten the sandwich without even knowing they did.

Dealing With Feelings of Isolation:

One of the more challenging aspects of being a caregiver can be the isolation many people feel. There isn't a "one size fits all" fix, but here are a few ideas:

  • Stop self-inflicted isolation. People will often not accept outside help because they are afraid or embarrassed about how their loved one acts. Silknitter says its crucial to get over your perceived embarrassment and accept help when you can.
  • Take advantage of technology. Silknitter recommends a Facebook page called The Caregiver Space.
  • Participate in support groups. Senior Resources of Guilford or your doctor are a great place for information on local support groups. It's important to note, these can sometimes be tough as you may not be able to get out of the house to attend a meeting as much as you would like.
  • Get a pen pal. There are millions of people going through the same challenges you face as a caregiver. If you are interested in setting up with a pen pal, you can email or send a note to Penpal C/O Caregiving101, 3709 Alliance Drive, Suite A, Greensboro, NC 27407.

If you have questions for Silknitter, you can reach him here.