What Is Assisted Feeding?
Some people experience problems in eating and drinking. This may be due to swallowing or respiratory problems, loss of appetite, nausea, mouth pain, dental problems or neurological conditions that affect the behavioural mechanisms of eating and drinking.
Assisted feeding is about working with your current health condition, exploring the limitations of how your body can consume and absorb food, and exploring options of how to feed it optimal nutrition. Specialised dietary supplements, with optimised nutrition, or different textures, may be suitable for certain conditions. Postural positions of the head or body may be necessary for some people, while swallowing techniques and food consistency may be relevant for others.
Nasogastric feeding involves a special tube that carries food to the stomach through the nose. A common type of assisted feeding, required in severe cases, is known as enteral feeding, where a mixture of optimal nutrition is fed directly into the stomach or intestine.
Assisted Feeding In Eating Disorders
Assisted feeding is required in some severe presentations of eating disorders. Anorexia nervosa manifests with a fear of eating, and even when a cautious decision to eat again is made, the danger of ‘refeeding syndrome’ must be managed.
Electrolyte and fluid disorders may result, so the careful reintroduction of food is required. Our clinical dietician is trained to help individuals gradually introduce food back into their lives, focussing on small steps of optimal nutrition for greater health. This allows a slow and gradual weight gain, and the avoidance of referring syndrome.
Fear of eating can also be present with other eating disorders such as bulimia nervosa. The purging of food shocks body cells to release potassium into the blood stream, which causes electrolyte imbalances and impairs glucose uptake by cells. Management of optimal nutrition allows body chemistry to rebalance, and calms the appetite and hunger centre in the brain.
Assisted Feeding In Cancer
Different types of cancer might induce eating and drinking problems, and may involve surgery and radiation treatment on the head, neck and throat areas.
The site of oral cancers, and the possible impairment of the oesophagus due certain cancers or treatment, may lead to difficulties in maintaining an ideal body weight, and receiving a sufficient amount of nutrients.
A feeding tube is used in order for the patient to receive the essential nutrients and vitamins. Percutaneous endoscopic gastrostomy (PEG) is a medical technique, where a tube bypasses the mouth and oesophagus, and is placed directly into the stomach as way of providing enteral nutrition.
This allows patients to receive ‘shots’ of balanced nutrition to help the body heal and repair. Monitoring of weight, eating behaviour and optimal nutrition can be provided by our clinical dietician.
Assisted Feeding In Older Clients
Older patients, who through struggle with eating and drinking due to old age, poor health or mental decline, may benefit from assisted feeding support. Physical issues may be present, such as the inability to hold a fork, or having trouble getting food to the mouth due to tremors.
Cognitive deficits due to dementia, where older people forget to eat, or with presentations of geriatric anorexia, where diminished cognition means they get confused about their need to eat, make assisted feeding essential.
Assisted Feeding Support At WeightMatters
Our clinical dietician provides assisted feeding support for all conditions and presentations, to ensure clients receive the optimal levels of nutrients in their diet, and the reassurance needed to manage what can sometimes be, stressful and frightening health conditions.
Caring for a loved one who requires assisted feeding can be a struggle. We offer support for carers, by providing a place where they can learn some tips and skills to better manage the situation, as well as providing a place to vent frustration, fear and other feelings.