Specialty Diets in Memory Care, It May Not Be What You Think!

If your loved one begins to have trouble chewing and/ or swallowing foods and beverages, they may be offered a “Special Diet”. These diets are also called Dysphagia Diets. Sometimes the changes to your loved one’s ability to chew and swallow require these diets comes on slowly. Sometimes the changes happen more immediately. Furthermore, sometimes your loved one may regain some or all their ability to chew and swallow. Special Diet requests are actually “orders” that come from their doctor. It is similar in concept to receiving an order for a new prescription. Our staff does not have the ability to change a Diet Order back to a less restrictive diet (i.e. moving back towards regular foods). If your loved one regains the ability to chew and swallow foods a doctor must provide a new Diet Order for us to follow. However, if our nursing staff notices a decline in your loved one’s ability to chew or swallow, we can temporarily change their diet to a more restrictive diet, for example, softer, smaller pieces of food that are easier to eat, for their safety until a doctor can make an evaluation.

Dysphagia Diets Available:

Minced and Moist Foods – Soft and moist foods with no liquid dripping from the food, minced to 4mm in size (slightly bigger than ⅛”). No biting and minimal chewing is required. These foods can be scooped up with a fork or a spoon.

Nectar Thick Liquids – These beverages are thickened to a point where they are “Sippable” and will pour quickly from a spoon. Using a standard sized straw will require some effort.

Pureed Foods – A smooth texture with no lumps that will hold its shape on a spoon. These foods do not require biting or chewing.

Honey Thick Liquids – Can be drunk from a cup or taken with a spoon. They have a smooth texture and require some effort to drink even through a wide diameter straw.

When it is determined a Resident requires one of these diets, it is sometimes a difficult transition for them. These modified texture diets certainly look different and may not be as appealing. It’s important for everyone to understand that these changes in food texture are in the best interest of your loved one and can literally be a matter of life and death since they may choke if they can no longer chew and swallow regular food safely.

No matter what diet your loved one may require, rest assured that our Culinary Team does all they can to ensure the meals are tasty and have all the same flavors of our regular meals even though the color and texture may be different.

Most importantly, these meals help allow your loved one to keep their dignity by feeding themselves as long as they are able. These meals also contain a most important ingredient, the nutrition they need to thrive!