Why Reading is So Good for Seniors

Reading is good for seniors on several levels. It can help prevent dementia, it can help prevent depression, and it also increases our capacity for empathy. So regularly reading high-quality material can benefit both your mental and emotional health.

 

All reading materials are not created equal. The “wrong” kind of material would be anything that may work against your goals. For example, if you only read your Facebook feed all day, you won’t get the same kinds of benefits. In fact, you may become more depressed if you struggle with comparing yourself to others. The “right” kind of material includes books, newspapers, and magazines. Literary fiction, novels, and educational nonfiction are all excellent choices.

Reading Prevents Dementia

Psychology Today reported on a  journal article that was written based on an observation of 300 older adults. They participated in a study to examine the effects of reading on seniors. After the participant’s deaths, their brains were examined for physical signs of dementia. The study concluded:

 

“Those people who reported that they read, were protected against brain lesions and tangles and self-reported memory decline over the 6-year study. In addition, remaining an avid reader into old age reduced memory decline by more than 30%, compared to engaging in other forms of mental activity. Those who read the most had the fewest physical signs of dementia…”

 

So even though all forms of mental activity are helpful (Don’t put down your Sudoku puzzle just yet!), reading seems to be one of the most beneficial in maintaining your mental acuity.

Reading Prevents Depression

Reading can also prevent depression. The science on this is not entirely clear, but that’s probably because reading lifts people’s moods due to a variety of different factors.

 

Readers are more likely to socialize by going to the library, going to bookstores, attending reading groups, and exchanging books with friends.

 

Some readers feel that books alleviate loneliness, as they start to feel they are friends with the characters.

 

Similarly, books give readers a window into someone else’s world. When a reader sees a character tackling a problem similar to one they might have, it gives the reader hope and a sense that they aren’t alone in their struggles.

 

Reading can boost your mood and help you relax, which changes the chemicals in your brain. Reading has even been shown to have an effect similar to meditation.

Reading Increases Empathy

Don’t want to turn into a grump? One of the best benefits of reading is that it increases empathy.  However, this benefit is only gleaned from reading literary fiction. Popular fiction and nonfiction books don’t provide the same value.

 

According to Scientific American, “Literary fiction, by contrast, focuses more on the psychology of characters and their relationships. “Often those characters’ minds are depicted vaguely, without many details, and we’re forced to fill in the gaps to understand their intentions and motivations…This genre prompts the reader to imagine the characters’ introspective dialogues. This psychological awareness carries over into the real world, which is full of complicated individuals whose inner lives are usually difficult to fathom. Although literary fiction tends to be more realistic than popular fiction, the characters disrupt reader expectations, undermining prejudices and stereotypes. They support and teach us values about social behavior, such as the importance of understanding those who are different from ourselves.”

 

ILA wants to encourage you to read more by making your reading experience more comfortable. That’s why we’ve put reading accessories on sale this week. Check out the Easy Reader Stand, Moshi Elite Neck Pillow, and Posture-Rite Lap Desk on our Sales page today.

3 Fun Outdoor Exercises for Seniors

When trying to come up with outdoor exercises for seniors, it’s easy to default to the most obvious activities. Walking, swimming, and cycling are commonly recommended for older adults who need to get outside and move.

 

But sometimes those exercises sound like more work than fun. That’s why we’ve compiled three outside-the-box activities that can help you get moving while retaining the fun factor.

 

Play as Exercise

Playing outdoors is one of the most overlooked exercise opportunities for adults. We tend to want everything organized and official. That’s why we join sports teams or running clubs.

 

But if you think about the way small children stay active, you’ll realize their exercise comes naturally through play. Why can’t adults play, too?

 

The easiest way to do this is to join your kids or grandkids out in the yard for a pickup game. No matter whether you are playing tag, soccer, baseball, or hide-and-seek, your grandkids will just be happy you’re spending time with them. And you’ll be getting some exercise.

 

You can also play alone or with adults. Go fly a kite in the park. Start a game of horseshoes or cornhole. Put up a badminton net in your yard. It doesn’t matter what you choose, as long as you are having fun.

Garden to Stay Healthy

The BBC recently released an article that proclaimed, “Gardening could be the hobby that helps you live to be 100.”

 

The benefits of gardening are both physical and mental. Physical exercise comes from walking, squatting up and down, carrying supplies, and doing other things that require strength.

 

One benefit that isn’t exercise-related is that spending more time outdoors boosts both mood and vitamin D levels. Another is that staying cognitively active as you plan your garden can help prevent dementia. Also, if you garden fruits or vegetables, eating what you grow can contribute to a healthier diet.

 

Take your Indoor Equipment Outside

Do you get bored doing your at-home exercises? Staring at the wall or TV just isn’t that fun. A simple way to remedy that is to take your indoor equipment outside. As soon as the weather is nice, move your stationary exercise sessions to the yard. You can have the benefits of outdoor exercise without having to actually go somewhere.

 

This week ILA has several items on sale that can help you get moving- inside or out.

 

Enjoy bicycle-type exercise from your chair or place the unit on a table to exercise arms. Our pedal exerciser helps you improve circulation and muscle strength. It’s made of heavy-duty steel with a large knob to adjust for variable resistance. It also features comfortable pedal straps to help hold your feet in place while in use.

 

The Multifunction Talking Pedometer measures and announces steps, calories, distance, and total activity time. And just in case you have so much fun exercising that you lose track of time, it has an audio clock function. The pause function allows you to stop and resume measurement as needed, and it has a 7-day memory to track and log your activity.

 

The Braille and Tactile Yoga Mat is designed to enable people who are blind, vision impaired, or who may face physical challenges due to age or disability, to practice yoga safely and confidently. This Yoga Mat is designed in three dimensions, with tactile raised and depressed features called ”stations” strategically placed to help the challenged yoga student feel where his or her hands, feet, and head should be placed for all 24 basic yoga postures. Designed for a person of average size (5′ 3″ or taller), the Yoga Mat for the Visually Impaired easily accommodates individuals who are shorter or taller who need only to adjust their stride for a comfortable fit.

What’s Right for You?: Choosing Adaptive Aids and Equipment

When you first start experiencing frustration with a health situation, it’s easy to go overboard in your efforts to try to find something that will mitigate the problem. Discovering what “works” can be a process of trial and error. Often at your own expense.

 

Before throwing money at any and every potential solution, take some time for an evaluation process. Use these questions as a checklist to help you determine what type of aid or equipment is best for you.

 

  1. Does it do what you need it to do?

Maybe your hearing has become worse, and you need a new, louder alarm clock. Don’t just randomly buy new ones, hoping they will have the right sound. Do your research to find clocks that have options for extra loud alarms, different types of sounds, and possibly even vibrations or bed-shaker options. You want to make sure the item is going to do what you need it to do before spending your money. Also, consider getting something with features that can grow with you. Maybe you don’t need a vibration feature now, but in a few months you may wish you had it.

 

  1. Is it a manageable size?

Whether considering a rollator walker or a pill container, consider the size of the item. Do you have room to store it? Can you carry it easily? Even if a piece of equipment is relatively small, it won’t be functional unless you have a good place to put it. An example of that is a talking pill container. Some of these containers are a bit bulky because they include built-in clocks and speakers. If you currently use a small pill sorter that stays inside a cabinet, will you be able to easily switch to something that needs more space and is less portable?  And if you are looking for a walker, will it fit into your vehicle or down the halls of your home?

 

  1. Is it a good fit for your physical abilities?

Sure, that cane looks snazzy, but if you really need to be using a walker, it may not be a good purchase. Make sure the item you buy fits your physical abilities. Be honest about possible limitations in seeing, hearing, or mobility. Another consideration is ergonomics. If you’ve had a stroke, there are adaptive utensils that can help you eat. But if you also have arthritic fingers, you should examine handle size and shape to make sure the utensils are manageable with that condition as well.

 

  1. Have you asked your doctor or therapist about it?

Doctors and therapists often have good ideas as to which aids work and which ones don’t. They also understand your health history and may think of warnings or considerations that are specific to your situation. Every little thing doesn’t require a healthcare consult, but if you are considering a piece of equipment, it’s in your best interest to get a professional opinion first.

 

  1. Can you afford it?

Even if you feel like you would pay anything just to solve your problem, don’t buy the first thing that comes along. Shop around and compare prices. Or wait until you see your favorite item go on sale. That’s why ILA puts items on sale each week. We try to make independent living affordable for our customers.

Computer Keyboard Options for People with Low Vision

If you have low vision, it may be challenging to use a standard computer keyboard. The good news is, there are several different options for adapting this piece of hardware. You can meet your specific needs and avoid having to use a computer keyboard you aren’t comfortable with.

 

Jumbo Keys and Oversized Hardware

Some keyboards have jumbo keys. Not only are the letters printed larger than usual, but the entire keyboard is also bigger. The VisionBoard Keyboard is a good example of this kind of adaptive equipment. The letters on each key (A-Z) are 7/16″ x 7/16″, and feature bold print. The oversized keys also have ample spacing in between.

 

Another oversized piece of hardware is the Big Track Mouse Ball. The BIGtrack is a valuable tool for users who lack fine motor skills which a regular mouse requires. For example, if you have arthritis, an ordinary mouse can be difficult to hold and keep the cursor in position while you click. The BIGtrack allows you to settle the cursor in position and then click easily without moving the cursor inadvertently. The giant yellow ball makes it easy to get the cursor to precisely where you want it. You can even do this with your foot or elbow!

Keys With Extra Contrast

If you are comfortable with the spacing of a standardized keyboard, there are other ways to enlarge the letters for easier viewing. The EZ Key Keyboard large print keyboard provides easy to see computer keys with extra-large key legends for greater visibility and efficiency. It features large-print keycaps that are clear and easy to read with high-contrast color schemes. You can choose black on white or black on yellow, depending on which one is easier for you to see.

 

Don’t want to buy a whole new keyboard? Stick-ons and overlays are the perfect solution. You can buy a set of black and white stick-ons that display capital letters at .4 of an inch high in bold print. Just peel them off and carefully place them on your existing keyboard.

 

If you have an Apple keyboard, you can buy a “skin,” or overlay that fits over the entire keyboard. No peeling and sticking individual stickers! These come in white on black or black on white.

Braille Keyboards

Make your keyboards tactile with braille stick-ons. Just like the large print bold stick-ons, these stickers are printed with jumbo letters. But the bonus is that they are also in Braille. The stickers come in black on white or black on yellow, to give you a choice of contrast. Braille keyboards are perfect for both low vision users and users who are blind.

Screen Magnifiers

While you’re considering your keyboard options, you may as well think about how to improve your screen viewing as well. LCD magnifiers and filters don’t just enlarge the screen, they also enhance contrast and reduce glare.

ILA stocks plenty of keyboards and keyboard labels for you to choose from. You can also find the complete range of our assistive technology on our Assistive Technology category page.

Tips and Tools To Help Keep Your Finances in Order

 

Sometimes retiring or getting older also means having a tighter budget. When you aren’t working anymore, there’s no prospect of getting a raise. Whatever your budget is from social security or savings, it likely won’t change any time soon. And even if that number is small, one good thing about it is that it will be mostly consistent. That allows you to make a budget with more certainty. Keeping your finances in order will be the key to feeling less stressed about money.

Recording and Budgeting Expenses

Whether you prefer using pencil and paper or you like to keep track of things online, the first step to managing your finances is to record and budget for your expenses. You will quickly see where you may be overspending, and you will hesitate to make impulse purchases, knowing you have to keep track of every penny.

 

If you don’t already have a budget in place, the first step is to record your essential expenses. Make note of any recurring payments, like your electric bill, and keep in mind that may fluctuate during the year.

 

After you have a good idea of what your base level of spending is for housing, food, and utilities, see how much money you have left out of your monthly income. Try to save a percentage, then budget the rest into categories like entertainment, clothing, travel, etc. Even if you don’t buy clothes every month, if you put $20 in your clothing budget (and don’t spend it on eating out!) in several months, when you need new shoes, you will be able to buy them without having to sacrifice from an essential area.

Protect Yourself from Fraud

Some banks are more “senior friendly” than others. Find a bank that will be supportive of any needs you may have as you maintain your account. Support can be shown in a variety of ways, including providing large print copies of materials, hiring employees that talk in a clear, non-condescending manner, and providing extra fraud protections.

 

Although no one wants to think about themselves cognitively declining, you should still prepare for the possibility. One way to do this is through fraud protections that involve sending family members alerts if large withdrawals are made from your account, or locking your debit card to a specific geographical area.

Low Vision and Money Management

Another barrier to money management can be low vision. That’s why ILA provides products that help count and track your money.

 

The New iBill Talking Banknote Identifier

Convenient, accurate and compact, the new iBill Talking Banknote Identifier enhances independence and confidence with ease of use. The new iBill offers accurate and immediate identification of paper money while being compact enough to go anywhere. Increased volume makes it easier to use in noisy places as well as for users with hearing difficulties. The earphone jack provides an alternative to the vibration mode as well as providing additional privacy. A redesigned slot makes it even easier to insert the bill, and the recessed buttons prevent inadvertent activation when the unit is in a purse or pocket!

 

Personal Financial Management Kit

This sturdy plastic envelope contains all the products you need to help you independently manage your finances. The kit includes plastic signature, check, and letter writing guides,

portable and desk-sized large print check and deposit registers, the CAN-DO Low Vision Pen, a low vision calculator, and an Expense Management Log.

 

Plastic Check Writing Guide

This heavy-duty plastic guide has cutout fields to assist in writing the necessary information on a standard 2 3/4″ x 6-inch check.

 

For even more tools that can help with money management, check out our Writing Guides & Money category on the ILA website.

Tips to Help You Extend the Life of Your Hearing Aid Batteries

Hearing aid battery life isn’t completely under our control. Batteries will run out at different speeds depending on how often you use your hearing aid, what type of battery you have, and what type of hearing aid you use.

 

However, there are a few tips that, if you follow them, will at least help you get the most life out of your batteries as possible.

 

Let the battery breathe.

Did you know that when you open a new battery and pull the tab, you should let the battery sit out for about five to ten minutes to “breathe”? That may sound funny, but it’s true! When outside air hits the materials inside the battery, it activates them. Putting your battery into the hearing aid too soon can shorten the battery life by a few days.

 

Wash your hands.

Wash your hands any time you change the battery or open a package of batteries. Oils and grime from your hands can clog up the battery (remember- it has to get air!) or damage it.

 

Keep your batteries at room temperature.

You may have heard that batteries last longer if you store them in the refrigerator. The thought is that the cooler temperatures will slow down the power leakage from the battery. But with hearing aid batteries, the refrigerator does more harm than good. Hearing aid batteries need to stay very dry, and the refrigerator creates condensation. This can lead to corrosion or shortened battery life.

 

Keep your batteries (and hearing aid) dry.

Speaking of staying dry, keep your batteries dry, even once they are in inside your hearing aid. Using a hearing aid dehumidifier can prolong battery life and increase the efficiency of the hearing aid itself.

 

Use fresh batteries.

If you keep pushing that one pack of batteries to the back of the drawer, by the time you pull it out and use it, you may not get as much life out of them as you’d like. Make sure you are using your batteries in the order that you purchased them, so none of your packs have a chance to sit around and lose power.

 

Open the door.

When you aren’t using your hearing aids, open the battery compartment door. This will keep the batteries from draining, and it will also encourage airflow and help with the moisture problem we’ve already discussed.

 

Take your batteries out.

If you’re not going to use your hearing aids for a long time, go ahead and take the batteries out. This gets even more air flowing than opening the compartment door, and is an even better way to prevent corrosion and moisture build up.

 

Need new batteries? This week ILA has several on sale.

 

Power One Hearing Aid Battery Size 675 – 6 Pack $2.96

These Power One Implant Plus batteries have 20% longer life. Recommended by Cochlear

 

iCellTech Hearing Aid Battery Size 312ds (6 pk) $2.53

 

Hearing Aid Battery #13 Orange (6pk) $3.42

Renata Maratone + replaces all size 13 zinc air batteries, including high power batteries.

 

How to Use Clocks to Reduce Confusion in People With Dementia

People with dementia often lose track of the time, date, or even if it’s day or night. If you are a caregiver, you may find yourself arguing with a loved one about what day it is, or what activities it’s time for them to do. This can cause strain on your relationship- especially if you are asking them to believe your word over what they perceive to be the truth.

 

One way to mitigate these types of situations is to transfer the authority (and blame) to an inanimate object- the clock. Even if your loved one already has a clock or watch in their home, you may not be getting the most use out of it. Choosing clocks that are clear and easy to see, that have alarm functions, and that display the month and day, will make everyone’s lives a little easier.

Low Vision Clocks

Sometimes people with dementia also have age-related vision loss. Even if they don’t, visually tracking tiny numbers can be confusing. That’s why choosing a clock that is designed for people with low vision is a win-win situation.

 

Also, using a digital clock is ideal. Analog clocks can be challenging to read because the viewer has to remember how to tell time on the analog clock. Digital clocks with jumbo-sized numbers offer the best combination of features.  

 

By making sure the time is easy to see and understand, you are reducing the potential for disagreements that might start over misreading the clock. You can gently direct your loved one to look at the numbers, and instead of telling them what it is, you can ask them what time it is. For example, instead of saying, “It’s 6:00! You need to eat your dinner now,” you can ask, “We eat dinner at 6:00. What time is it now?”

Types of Alarms

Most clocks come with a standard alarm feature. This is fine for a one time task, like getting up in the morning. But what do you do if you have multiple activities you would like to alert your loved one to throughout the day? Even if you get a clock that has the multiple alarm feature, how can they tell what each alarm is signaling?

 

This is where clocks like the Your Minder Personal Recording Alarm Clock come in really handy. The Your Minder Personal Alarm Clock can record your own voice and play back a personal alarm or reminder for each alarm. Record up to six of your own alarm messages to alert users when it’s time to take medication, get out of bed, walk the dog- or whatever they need to do!

Dates and Months

It’s one thing to see and know what time it is, and it’s another to keep track of the day of the week and the month of the year. Your loved one may understand it’s morning because they can see the sun coming through their window. But what if they have trouble remembering what day it is? If they have special activities they look forward to every week, they may keep those activities in the forefront of their mind and ask you every day if it is time to go.

 

Using a clock that has both a day and month display can help with this problem. If water therapy is on Wednesday, and today is Tuesday, you don’t have to bear the disappointing news. You can gently direct your loved one to look at the clock and let you know what day it is. Or if they think it is the month of their granddaughter’s birthday, you can ask them to check the clock to verify if it is June yet.  

 

None of these ideas will work 100% of the time, but they will certainly cut back on the potential for misunderstandings.

Fun Products for Kids with Low Vision

We often focus on adult-oriented low vision products because about 45% of low vision is caused by age-related macular degeneration. But low vision affects people of all ages.

Kids aren’t completely independent. But they should be learning to be. Toys, games, books, and educational supplies are imperative for their learning. ILA has product categories we offer that are “just for kids.” (But sometimes big kids enjoy these items, too!)

Children’s Toys

Some of our children’s toys were created to be adaptive, and some of them just happen to work well for kids with special healthcare needs. Moshi Snuggle Pals are cute stuffed animals that unfold to form a soft pillow. Snuggle pals are great for children who are seeking sensory input or who have low vision. The jumbo size and tactile appeal make them fun to hold and pet. ILA carries several different animal types of Snuggle Pal.

The CAN-DO Basketball Kit adapts basketball by using a ball with a bell, a goal goal-locator buzzer, and a bell to hang on the net. The goal locator buzzer helps kids find the goal, and one they make a basket, they’ll hear the bell ring in victory.

For the littlest people, we have braille ABC Wooden Blocks. Made from sustainable Michigan basswood, the 28 block set has both Braille and embossed letters on the block, along with traditional letter forms. Alphabet blocks are a classic toy for young children.

Braille Games

Rubik’s Cubes are so popular that we knew we had to carry one. The Tactile Rubik’s Cube is a modified cube that has different tactile markings for each color on the cube. The cube is the same size as the timeless classic, making it just as much of a challenge.

Go Fish! ILA carries braille playing cards. Our cards are the same size as a standard deck, so you can enjoy playing any card game.

One of the coolest items we have is a Complete Braille Sudoku set.  A favorite game of numerical strategy,  this game uses a wooden playing board with Braille number tiles and comes with a Braille book with 100 Sudoku puzzle and solutions

Sale Items

This week, since our focus is on kids, we are offering some of our kids’ items for sale.

4.5X Jumbo Magnifier 3.5 diameter by Learning Resources– $5.76

This extra-large magnifier is perfect for small hands. Observe the world on a grand scale through a jumbo lens that measures 3.5″ in diameter. The magnifier gives 4.5x magnification. Colors vary.

Talking Musical Instruments Sound Puzzle– $10.23

Did you know? Puzzles increase vocabulary, develop hand-eye coordination, improve memory, and build literacy skills. And this 8-piece musical instrument puzzle also develops listening skills. When a child places a piece in its correct spot, the instrument plays. Children will learn to distinguish between the different types of instruments.

60 Minute Jumbo Timer- $11.81

Teach time management skills with our Jumbo Timer. When the time is up, a buzzer sounds and a button pops up. The Jumbo Timer helps structure independence in activities. And don’t tell the kids, but you can borrow this as a kitchen timer as well. The large size and contrasting colors make it easy to see.

 

Don’t forget to check out all of our other kids’ categories, such as educational products!

Atomic Clocks: What are They?

For most people, Daylight Saving Time is an annoyance. The long-term economic benefits are not easily observable, but the immediate inconvenience of resetting clocks and trying to get to bed a bit earlier is apparent.

The average adult used to spend 10 minutes resetting their clocks twice a year. That’s not a long time, but it does add up. And when you consider how many people accidentally re-set their clock in the wrong direction, imagine how much productivity could be lost!

Fortunately, the use of atomic clocks and internet-based is on the rise. Atomic clocks are helping people save time and avoid confusion. They provide peace of mind, knowing that your time is always correct.

What is an Atomic Clock?

An atomic clock is a clock that uses the vibrations of molecules to keep time. The technique of atomic beam magnetic resonance was developed in the 1930s. By the mid-40s, Columbia University professor, Isidor Rabi, was considering how to use this resonance to measure time.

In 1949, the National Bureau of Standards announced the first atomic clock. The vibrations of an ammonia molecule were used to measure seconds. In 1952 the measurement tool was changed to cesium atoms. Over the next ten years, scientists worked to perfect the atomic clock. Finally, in 1968 the world’s most stable cesium clock was completed. It has an error margin of one second every 20 million years.

Atomic Clocks in Your Home

Most of the atomic clocks you buy for your home aren’t literally keeping their time by running off of vibrating cesium atoms. Instead, they synchronize with the time kept by a true atomic clock at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST).

This synchronization is done through a special radio wave that transmits the date, time, whether it’s a leap year, and whether it’s Daylight Saving Time. Typically, these clocks check their time through the radio signal every few hours. This keeps their accuracy within half a second throughout the day.

ILA’s Atomic Clocks

To make your life easier, ILA offers a variety of atomic clocks. Our Atomic Talking Time and Date Alarm Watch is ideal for anyone with visual impairments or who is Blind.  The hour and minute hands, as well as the numbers, are a bold black that provides good contrast with the white face. The watch also clearly speaks the time, day, date, and month in a pleasant male voice. All you have to do is set your time zone, and you will always have the exact time.

For keeping time on the go, the Talking Atomic Keychain Clock gives you the convenience of an atomic clock on your keychain! It has a large green talking button which will announce the time and the date whenever pressed. It works anywhere in the US and UK because it detects the time via radio signal. And while it comes attached to a keychain, it also includes an additional thin 30″ string lanyard for wearing around the neck.

If you want a little more functionality, the ILA Atomic Talking Clock w/Alarm, Calendar and Wireless Outdoor Temperature Sensor is a talking atomic alarm clock that has all the bells and whistles. And it speaks all the functions to guide you through the settings. Find out the time, date, and indoor and outdoor temperatures. Use the voice function, or for those with some vision, the information is also digitally displayed in large numbers.

 

To see our complete line of atomic watches and clocks, click here for watches, and here for clocks.

 

How to Create Mealtime Independence for Seniors

 

If you are the caregiver for a senior adult who struggles with mealtimes, you understand the fine line between promoting independence at meals and being an enforcer of healthy eating. Whether or not they eat food, or what food they choose to eat is often one of the few things people can still control when other things in their life start to feel out of control. This sometimes leads to an unhealthy pattern of only choosing things that taste a certain way, or refusing to eat enough out of frustration with physical limitations that make self-feeding difficult.

It is tempting to go to extremes by either taking a hard stance on mealtimes or just throwing up your hands and refusing to give any guidance at all. But there are ways to create a healthy balance between independence and assistance while keeping mealtimes a pleasant and stress-free experience. Having the right attitude and employing a few eating aids can go a long way towards helping your loved one enjoy mealtimes again.

Attitude

The first (and easiest) thing to change about mealtimes is your attitude. When you approach mealtimes as a stressful battle, you are setting the stage for problems. Older adults, especially those with dementia, will often pick up on body language and tone of voice more than the words you are saying. If they feel a confrontational vibe, they will mirror that. This will sometimes result in rigid feeding behaviors, like refusing to eat or choosing a limited range of foods.

Mealtime should feel relaxed and pleasant. If you are used to dropping food off in front of your loved one and then using that time to catch up on housework or “me time,” you may want to reconsider. Sitting together at mealtime, sharing a meal, and having conversation will make your loved one feel comfortable and valued. Pleasant, safe feelings lead to better eating habits and encourage a willingness to try new things.

Also, this time together will give you the opportunity to notice if they are experiencing any attention issues or fine motor issues that may make feeding difficult. You can use verbal cues to keep them focused on their meal, or to help gently direct them on how to get the food on their utensil and into their mouth. They may need help with the sequencing of events, or they may have side neglect from stroke, and fail to see the food on one side of their plate.

Eating Aids

Some mealtime problems may be due more to physical issues than mindset issues. Does your loved one have arthritis, a weak grasp, or other hand limitations? Special utensils can help. For example, a built-up-handle fork is perfect for people with upper extremity weakness or reduced range-of-motion. This type of fork features a built-up handle with a contoured shape. That makes it easier to hold and use.

Maybe your loved one gets frustrated at chasing food off the edge of their plate. The Inner Lip Plate is designed as an aid in self-feeding. The inner lip holds the food on the plate, while they bring their fork or spoon to the edge of the plate. It’s perfect for use at home because it blends in with regular tableware. Plus, it’s dishwasher and microwave safe.

An aid like the Stress Less Drink Holder can reduce spills and frustration. Set it beside your loved one’s favorite comfy chair or couch, bedside, desk, or even dining room table. The Stress Less can accommodate a variety of beverage containers from mugs, coffee cups, glasses & tumblers. It has a built-in Coaster and a Handy Holder for personal items like tea, sugar packets, a pen, magnifier, even their glasses, or whatever they wish to place in the handy slots. And the coaster rim helps contain any unintentional drips or spills.

 

Check out all of our eating helpers and utensils here.