Tips After CNA Training – My Patients Won’t Eat!

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Problems and Solutions After CNA Training

CNA training can’t prepare you for everything. Sometimes we just have to be innovative in our daily duties as a CNA. Whether you’re working with elderly patients or in a pediatric ward, you will inevitably come upon those times when your patient just doesn’t want to eat their meals.

Let’s make the problem a bit more complicated. Let’s say you have an Alzheimer’s patient. For some individuals, Alzheimer’s can affect the hypothalamus portion of the brain. That’s the part which triggers feelings of hunger. So, you’ve got an elderly, frail patient on your hands who simply doesn’t want to eat. What can you do? Again, we bet your CNA training didn’t cover this! Here are a few pointers gathered from real life experiences. We polled a group of CNA’s who had less than six months on the job after CNA training. Here’s the ideas they provided.

Your Career After CNA Training

  • Befriend your patient – Sounds silly, doesn’t it? What does friendship have to do with getting your patient to eat? Well, a lot actually. They may not teach you this in CNA training, but it’s just a part of human nature mixed with a little psychology. If your patient never feels hungry (due to Alzheimer’s or another disease affecting their hunger trigger), your patient can dwindle away to ill health in a matter of days. By befriending the patient, there are plenty of tactics that can get him or her to eat, even if they’re not hungry. One CNA told us she says, “Oh, but I made this special for you. If you don’t try just a little bit, my feelings will be hurt.” Sound unprofessional? We told you these answers wouldn’t be in a CNA training manual, but do they work? They sure do! No one wants to hurt their friend’s feelings and you’re very likely to get your patient to eat at least a little of their meal if you come at it with a friendship approach.
  • Does this taste right? – Another CNA told us she would ask her patient if the food had been cooked correctly or if it tasted bland. The patient would taste it, tell her what it was missing and the CNA would actually leave the room with the tray, return and ask the patient to taste it again, asking if it was better or not. Again, a little trick they won’t tell you in CNA training, but it certainly can work!
  • Give them what they want – Many elderly patients have certain flavors and tastes they enjoy more than others. Many patients like the taste of Ensure, which is a popular meal replacement drink packed with vitamins and nutrients. If your patient would rather have a shake than the turkey sandwich sitting on their tray, why not give it to them? Eating something is far better than going without. Remember, just as you have particular foods you enjoy, so do they. Instead of focusing on what’s on the tray, try to be creative if necessary. This may not be what your CNA training suggested, but the bottom line is to have a happy, healthy, thriving patient.

If you have patients who have difficulty eating, try the tips mentioned above. Your CNA training can only take you so far. Often, combining real life experiences and the advice of current CNA’s with your CNA training materials provides the best results.

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