A seemingly simple task such as eating can eventually turn into a challenging one for those who have dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Eating healthy, fuelling meals is a challenge on its own for most seniors, but it becomes especially difficult when your loved one forgets to eat or a decline in motor skills makes it hard to use utensils.
Patients can become extremely dependent on their caregivers, which is why it is crucial to develop a plan to alleviate some of the hassles that mealtime can present. Read on to learn a few tips to help make mealtime with your loved one easier.
Provide Several Small Meals Instead of Three Large Ones
With Alzheimer’s and dementia, it can be common to forget when or how to properly eat. Even identifying sensations of hunger can become a challenge. Breaking up mealtimes into smaller meals throughout the day can make it easier to ensure your loved one is getting a balanced diet. Smaller meals and snacks are also easier and faster to consume and present less of a hurdle than sitting through a large meal.
Supplement Meals with Healthy Shakes and Drinks
If your loved one is unable to meet their nutritional requirements through normal meals, it may be necessary to take dietary supplements to get enough protein, fiber, and vitamins. If your loved one has difficulty eating food or refuses to eat, consider swapping out some meals for healthy drinks that are high in protein and dense in calories. For example, consider using heavy cream instead of milk in coffee and tea for a boost in calories, or protein powder blended with fresh fruit for that healthy boost each day. Speak with your loved one’s health care practitioner for recommendations. This is especially important if your loved one has health complications such as diabetes or high blood pressure that necessitate a special diet.
Make Eating Easy for Them
Using utensils can become a challenge as dementia or Alzheimer’s progresses. But you can alleviate that problem by adding in more finger-friendly foods. You can try items such as sliced veggies and fruits, sandwiches, and cheese cubes.
Keep Meals Simple
Keeping meals simple by offering just a few items per setting can make mealtime easier. Rather than having several items of food on a plate that can appear overwhelming and even taxing to consume, minimize it to three or four at the most to keep it simple and easy.
When it’s time to eat, eliminating distractions such as the TV or radio can allow your loved one to focus more on the task of eating. Try to form a habit of turning off any distractions until after meals have been finished.
It can be difficult to deal with the frustrations during mealtime and the stress of ensuring your loved one gets enough to eat. But when someone has dementia or Alzheimer’s, these factors can quickly become a part of their reality.
An in-home caregiver can assist with meal preparation and mealtimes for your loved one. Our caregivers are exceptionally trained to provide the necessary care that each and every Alzheimer’s and dementia patient requires. To learn more, contact Qualicare Family Homecare today at 613.366.2899.