Helpful Alzheimer’s Patient Eating Tips for Overcoming Mealtime
For someone with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, proper nutrition and hydration are essential. Eating and drinking help keep the immune system functioning – staving off infections and illness – and help the individual maintain strength. Likewise, poor nutrition can exacerbate confusion and lead to physical weakness, opening the door to a variety of serious health problems.
If you’re caring for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia, you understand how challenging this can be. For a variety of reasons, Alzheimer’s and eating difficulties go hand in hand.
First, understand that there may be certain conditions causing these challenges, from medications that decrease appetite to poorly fitting dentures that cause pain when chewing. Make sure you address – and resolve – any underlying issues that may be affecting your loved one’s ability or desire to eat.
If you find that eating and drinking are still a challenge, here are some tips that may help:
6 Alzheimer’s Patient Eating Tips
1. Set Aside Plenty of Time for Meals
People with Alzheimer’s can experience mood and behavioral changes that affect their ability to eat and drink. If your loved one gets up to wander, simply redirect him back to the table. If your loved one is easily distracted at mealtime, create a quiet environment without TVs or radios playing. Turn his or her chair away from windows. Above all else, be patient. Set aside plenty of time for each meal and have your meals at the same time, in the same place, each day.
2. Graze Throughout the Day.
Instead of preparing three big meals each day, serve smaller meals more often.
3. Reduce Confusion.
Patterned plates can cause confusion. Serve food on plain white plates and bowls. Use only the necessary utensils and try a straw for drinking. Eat in a quiet area without a lot of distractions.
4. Limit Choices.
Too many food options on the plat can be confusing. Avoid this by placing only one food on the plate at a time or serve one-dish meals.
5. Serve Finger Foods in Bowls.
If your loved one is having difficulty using utensils, consider serving food in bowls so it’s easier to handle. Serve finger foods or cut up whatever you’re serving into easily manipulated pieces. Serve soup in a mug; just make sure it’s not too hot.
6. Be Mindful of the Food Temperature.
Prevent any burns or discomfort by making sure you do not serve any food or beverage that is too hot to safely eat or drink.
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