Alzheimer’s symptoms can sometimes cause problems for families at mealtimes. While you know your senior loved one needs a proper diet to stay healthy, he or she may lack an interest in food. Your loved one may also be unable to tell you why he or she balks at mealtime. The reasons behind poor eating habits in seniors with Alzheimer’s can range from poorly fitting dentures to difficulty handling a fork. After looking for a physical cause for your loved one’s lack of appetite, you can use these strategies to help him or her eat more at meals.
1. Eliminate Distractions
Noises, bright lights, and too many people around can cause seniors with Alzheimer’s to lose focus on eating. They often need to think about each step involved in even the most common tasks. Try turning off the television, closing the blinds, and only having one or two people around your loved one during meals to help him or her focus on eating.
2. Provide Simple Food Choices
Your loved one may also be overwhelmed by too many options on the plate. Try to keep dishes simple, and plan to include only a few foods in each meal. Having the choice of only two or three items makes it easier for your loved one to identify what he or she is eating. If he or she only eats one of the items, try not to worry. You can always serve the others at the next meal.
A trained Alzheimer’s caregiver can provide expertise and additional support to encourage your loved one to eat. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of home care service. Allen families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
3. Model How to Eat
At a certain point, your loved one may forget how to eat properly. During these times, try modeling how to use utensils to pick up food from the plate and place it into your mouth. Showing enthusiasm about the meal and commenting on the tastes and textures can also help your loved one develop more excitement about eating.
4. Try Different Textures and Colors
Seniors with Alzheimer’s can also develop aversions to certain textures of food. For instance, they may dislike the way crunchy foods feel in their mouths, and being served pureed vegetables rather than raw ones can help seniors feel more interested in eating. Brightly colored foods can also look more appealing on a neutral-colored dish.
Helping an aging adult get proper nutrition when he or she doesn’t want to eat can be exhausting. If you’re the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality homecare, Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age.
5. Provide Different Utensils and Dishes
You may also need to rethink how you serve common foods so your loved one finds it easier to get them into his or her mouth. Many seniors with Alzheimer’s find it easier to scoop food toward their mouths using spoons and bowls rather than trying to push things around on plates. Try cutting up food into smaller pieces or changing how they’re cooked so they stick to spoons or forks better.
6. Offer Food with High Water Content
Dehydration can make it difficult for someone with Alzheimer’s to eat. Your loved one might not realize it, but he or she could be having issues with eating if his or her mouth is dry. Your loved one may also forget to take sips of his or her drink during the meal. Watermelon, cucumbers, and soups are a few ideas for foods that may be easier for your loved one to eat, since they hydrate the mouth.
Professional caregivers with specialized experience in Alzheimer’s care can be a wonderful source of support for older adults with the disease. Without the right assistance, Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors and their families to manage. If you’re looking for professional Alzheimer’s care, Allen Home Care Assistance provides high-quality care aging adults and their families can count on. All of our hourly and live-in caregivers are trained to help seniors with Alzheimer’s live happier and healthier lives, and we also provide specialized dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. For reliable in-home care services, contact us at (972) 548-0392 today.