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Tips for Getting Older Adults with Alzheimer’s to Eat

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Sometimes, older adults with Alzheimer’s may seem to lose interest in food. There are many different reasons they may avoid meals. However, seniors with Alzheimer’s need to continue consuming a healthy diet for cognitive and physical health. There are many different techniques you can try to stimulate your aging loved one’s appetite.

Use Simple Table Settings

The visual disturbances that develop during the later phases of Alzheimer’s often make it difficult for seniors to recognize items on a table. Consider using white dinnerware that offsets the colors of foods. Choose tablecloths or placemats in contrasting colors so your loved one can more easily see bowls, cups, and dishes. Avoid patterned table dressings or dinnerware, as these can become distracting and confusing for seniors with Alzheimer’s.

Reduce Distractions

The sound of a stereo playing, noise from a television, or having too many people in the home can often distract a senior with Alzheimer’s, who is likely to divert his or her attention to the location of the noise. Your loved one might become agitated or anxious and prefer to leave the area. Avoid centerpieces or placing too many items on the table. An excess of visual stimuli is also distracting.

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 senior home care. Altamonte Springs 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.

Create a Pleasant Atmosphere

While serving the food and beginning the meal, make eye contact with your loved one and start a casual conversation to make mealtime pleasant. Discuss the food or a positive event that occurred during the day. Perhaps spark your loved one’s memory by mentioning foods or dishes that were popular in days past. If your parent’s attention is easily swayed, keep conversations to a minimum once he or she starts eating.

Pay Attention to How Food Is Served

Be careful not to provide food that’s overly warm. Seniors with Alzheimer’s are no longer able to recognize if foods are piping hot. Your loved one may take a bite and burn him or herself. Providing too much food at one time might also turn your loved one off at mealtime. Some seniors with Alzheimer’s do better when served one or two foods at a time, while others prefer to choose from a variety of foods on the plate. Trial and error will determine what works for your loved one.

Helping a senior with Alzheimer’s 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 services, Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age.

Check for Preference Changes

Foods your parent enjoyed for years might suddenly become distasteful. As cognitive and mental changes occur, it’s not unusual for seniors with Alzheimer’s to develop different tastes. Consider taking your loved one shopping and allowing him or her to choose meal ingredients. Perhaps plan meals together.

Avoid Rushing Meals

Allow your parent to eat at his or her own pace. Your loved one may eat more slowly than other family members. Monitor your parent during later phases of the disease to ensure he or she chews sufficiently and swallows food without difficulty. Your loved one may also eventually choke on fluids. Food-based thickeners are readily available that thicken liquids to desired consistencies to make swallowing easier.

Provide Gentle Reminders

As the disease progresses, your loved one may lose track of place and time. Time will no longer have meaning. Your parent may not remember the last meal he or she had or what was consumed. As such, he or she may need gentle guidance to the table at mealtimes.

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, Windermere 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. Reach out to us at Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate, professional Alzheimer’s care for your loved one. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (407) 604-0506 to learn about the high quality of our in-home care services.

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