If you are caring for someone with dysphagia, in order to provide a safe mealtime it is important to consider the mealtime environment as well as the meal itself. An uninviting environment can put people off their meals and result in inadequate nutrition and hydration, while a distracting environment can reduce focus on following the strategies for safe swallowing and lead to safety concerns. The following tips may help you to ensure the mealtime environment is optimised for the person you care for to enjoy a safe and nutritious meal:
- Reduce potential distractions – minimise the number of people walking around the meal area, turn off or turn down the volume on the TV or radio, avoid loud noises such as microwave or oven timers going off
- Create an inviting atmosphere – decorating the meal area with tablecloths, placemats, plants, pictures and curtains can create a warm atmosphere that can help facilitate enjoyment at mealtimes
- Food aroma & presentation – the smell and appealing appearance of food can help to increase appetite as we taste not only with our tongues but our eyes and our noses as well.