Alzheimer's, Caregivers, and Mealtime
Mealtimes can be especially problematic for caregivers providing care for persons with Alzheimer’s. While the process of being seated at the table is routine for many of us, it is a significant challenge for caregivers as persons with Alzheimer’s often have difficulty comprehending verbal instructions.
Caregivers are encouraged to establish a “relationship bond” and to maintain “eye contact” with persons in their care. To do so they are cautioned from “approaching persons from behind” or from “surprising or startling” them. And yet when mealtime assistance is required caregivers have no choice but to approach the seated person from behind and push on the back of the chair simply to get the seated person moved up-to the table.
Caregivers feel more like “hired muscle” than a ”giver-of-care”
It is not uncommon for a person with Alzheimer’s to bump into furniture while attempting to get seated in a chair. This can have disastrous results, as any unintended contact with the chair can cause it to move unexpectedly, often resulting in a fall or injury!
Unfortunately, traditional chairs fail...
A standard dining chair is deemed unsafe as it is does not move easily, putting the care provider at risk of incurring a personal injury.
An office chair is deemed unsafe as this style of chair rolls too easily, putting the seated person at risk of falling should the chair move unexpectantly.
Unfortunately, traditional chairs fail both seniors and caregivers
as a standard dining chair is not designed to move,
putting the caregiver at risk of incurring a personal injury
as a result of overexertion,
the office/task chair is designed to roll too easily (not stable)
putting the seated person at risk of incurring a injury due to a fall
when the chair moves unexpectedly.
A Better Way
Dining chairs designed to address these concerns should have arms and include mobility features enabling the chair to swivel-lock...roll...and brake for safety!
(A) Swivel-lock: Chairs that swivel-lock eliminate table interference as the seat of the chair is swiveled 90 degrees away from the table.
With the seat locked in place, the person being seated is able to rely on the arms of the chair for support and has full access to the seat of the chair as any interference with the table has been eliminated.
Once seated, they can release the swivel-lock and swivel themselves towards the table.
(B) Swivel-lock...Roll and Brake: Additionally, chairs that swivel-lock…roll…and brake can be moved further away from the table providing increased table clearance should a second caregiver be required to provide assistance or if the person relies on a walker / rollator for stability.
Exiting the table: With the seat of the chair turned (90 degrees) away from the table, the seated person is also able to rise from the chair and walk directly away from the table.
This eliminates the need for the person to lean on the table and shuffle/pivot his/her feet as they reach for their walker.
Why is a heavier chair safer when caring for a person with Alzheimer's?
At first glance, caregivers assigned the task of moving a seated person up to the table opt for a lightweight chair, thinking this will ease their effort when moving that person forward.
However, what they fail to appreciate is (a) once the person is seated, it is the total weight of the person and the chair that needs to be moved up-to the table, and (b) a lightweight chair tends to move prematurely, increasing the risk of injury to the person being seated.
Caregivers should consider selecting a chair designed both for stability and mobility.
A sturdy chair with arms offers support as the person slowly lowers him/herself into the chair. A heavier chair provides increased stability and thus is less likely to move prematurely. Chairs fitted with lockable inline wheels provide needed mobility, enabling the caregiver to roll the seated person up-to the table with ease and grace.
Chairs that Swivel...Roll...and Brake for safety:
- provide those with Alzheimer's a greater degree of dignity and self-worth
- eliminate the need for care partners to push-pull-shove-twist on a chair
- reduce mealtime stress and anxiety for both the seated person and the care partner
- create a more enjoyable mealtime routine for all
My son Edward made arrangements for the chair to be sent to us in San Marcos CA for my husband who now has Alzheimer's. I want to tell you how wonderful we think the chair is. It meets all of the needs of a person who cannot move about without assistance.
The arms on the chair are sturdy enough for my husband to push himself up and the wheels and lever to turn the seat make it so much easier for caregivers and I to move him about.
Swivel & Roll - San Marcos, CA
I just want to say thank you and your team for building such an amazing chair that has literally been a life saver for my mother who suffers from Alzheimers and dementia. The upholstery has held up for a year of hard use, it looks brand new. We added a backrest at her chiropractor's request because she literally sits on a chair all day.
I have no doubt that I will be enjoying the benefits of this arm chair 25 years from now!