How can I help my wife eat independently again?

My wife has PSP. Her main eating difficulty is getting her spoon or fork from the plate to her mouth. She tends to spent minutes just staring at her fork, halfway. Her vision is poor which could account for this but I wonder if anyone else has a better explanation and suggestions from their own experience. When I feed her or assist her arm my wife eats normally and at a normal pace. Left to her own devices, meals can take hours.


14 Replies

  • Hi Barnacle, sounds like your wife is a bit more advanced than my husband, but not by much. He takes forever to drink a cuppa or finish a meal more so if there is a distraction as it seems to take 100% concentration on any one thing. The only way that i know of is you will have to feed her and at her pace, it can take a long time? it's a frontal lobe dementia thing i think. sorry hope you get a good answer from someone else as I'd like to know too.

  • On a good day,well before dad really deteriated,he could just about feed himself,sometimes just using his fingers.So he always liked non messy foods, chips,fish fingers ,crackers.But on a bad day mum fed him,she always asked him if he could manage,and if she thought he was strugglig she would intervene.On bad days nothing really made it to his mouth,she found food on his apron or down the side of the chair.Once he became really ill in the last 18 months feeding was really difficilt,sometimes dad ate nothing just having his nutrition drink.I think you just have to find what is best for your wife to manage.A co called wilshire foods make really good pureed dinners (frozen) tht look apertizing,which may help Dont worry about how long it takes,if she can still eat thats brilliant,

  • Hi , my father can not eat well, he from a time to now eats puree all his foods are puree cause he swallows really bad, for me is more easy and fast cause he doesn´t chew and for him less dangerous, try this :) hugs from spain

  • Sadly it will only get progressively worse. Someone will now have to help spoon feed your wife. We found the ensure chocolate puddings very good for nutrition and swallowing. Here's a link:

    You can get them from your doctor if you are in the UK

  • Just to add. Your wife may be able to use her hands and fingers to feed herself with such things as garlic bread or chips, but I found folks and spoons generally become useless after a short while.

  • Hi Barnacle,

    My husband sadly died in June last year, but I do remember when it became more of a trial for him to try to eat than to let me feed him.Virtually no food reached his mouth because of a lack of eye to hand co ordination. We did not go onto to pureed food right away but I did ask him if he would prefer me to feed him and he was very relieved to have me do this. It was actually less stressfull for both of us and he could enjoy his food again for a while. We tended to treat this as our quality time together. When the time came I bought cheap equipment from Argos to that I could cook and puree his food myself and this worked very well. I do hope this.helps.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you as you go through this long and difficult journey.


  • Many thanks, Teena2. Very helpful. There is certainly lack of eye to hand coordination. Barnacle

  • Hi there, what I have been doing more and more is just holding tactfully under mums own hand and just guiding it to her mouth but after 2 infections she just lost the ability to get anything onto the cutlery. On Christmas day she had been really well for about 6 weeks and had peaked. I naturally laid the table as normal for her and she picked up the knife and fork and I thought she was a bout to use them but she sat the whole time staring into space so I just fed her with a spoon while she held them. The Parkinsons side of things is really the worst thing-2 days after that she had a UTI and when she woke up she could only move her eyelids so we are right back to square one building her strength and hoisting her into chair and bed whereas before this she could walk with assistance, Bless them all, they try so hard against this wicked illness.

  • Thank you, daughter no1. I am so sorry to read about the difficulties your mum is facing - and you - sorry for her sake and sorry for my wife's sake because she may well experience the same sort of things you describe. Barnacle

  • Hi, I'm Judy, from W. St. Paul, MN, USA. I'm 54 & was diagnosed 8-12, but realize in hindsight, the symptoms started slowly 2 years prior.

    Even before I was diagnosed, I was having difficulty with eating. In part, due to tremors, but my neuro said it also is because of eye-tracking problems as you alluded to.

    These days, I always eat with a spoon and keep my head bent over closer to the plate; this has helped a lot, tho I sometime manage to miss my mouth from time to time, and make a mess. Hope this helps, if even a little.

  • It does help, Judy. Thank you. I have observed my wife keeping her head bent low over her food and have up to now tried to discourage her because sometimes her head gets to be at a right angle to her body which I had assumed made swallowing even more difficult.. But now I'll try leaving her and see if this makes it easier.

    Thanks again. Barnacle

  • Good luck & my sincerest wishes it helps at least some of the time; please keep us upated. Judy.

  • We used to put mums plate on a couple of yellow pages to make it closer to her. That helped, sometimes you just have to accept that it is another stage in the illness though

  • We tried that and then started to use a "mobile table" similar to small tables you can raise or lower for someone in bed. My wife sometimes prefers it but often asks me to just put her plate on the dining table. However, it is very good for television suppers!

    Thanks. Barnacle

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