Feeding Technique Innovation Can Impact Nutrition of Seniors Needing Assistance

April 1, 2021
April 1, 2021

This blog post continues our ongoing series about HealthStream’s Living Labs Program by Richard Galentino, Ed.D., Vice President, Professional Development Pathways & Living Labs, HealthStream.

I remember during the last couple of years of my grandmother’s life her independence greatly diminished—especially as her Alzheimer ’s disease became worse. Eating, and especially certain foods like tomato soup—one of her favorites—became difficult. A few years later I had the opportunity to work with faculty from the Duke University School of Nursing and the Duke University School of Medicine and learned several innovative approaches to providing the best possible care to frail elders like my grandmother.

Did you know there are three feeding techniques?

Watch this video:

Our family unknowingly used direct hand techniques. Direct Hand basically means that we fed my grandmother and she was very passive in the whole process—creating further loss of independence. As my grandmother continued to decline, we could have used the innovative under hand technique that would have allowed her to be a part of the process—and let us hold the spoon when she was not able to. While we would have still played an active role by holding the spoon, grandmother’s hand would have rested on top of ours and she could have guided and could have been more participatory in the process.

This technique is one of many that can improve engagement and outcomes in the senior care population. How confident are your teams in caring for the frail elder population? To take the Duke Interprofessional Frail Elder Staff Survey, contact us at