For seniors who have dementia, eating can be a complicated and confusing process. As the disorder progresses, they might forget how to use cutlery or completely lose interest in eating, which could result in secondary health issues down the road. If you’re caring for a senior loved one who is having a difficult time with snacks and meals, you’ll need to come up with a comprehensive feeding plan that helps him or her get the necessary nutrition.
1. Create a Calm Environment
Many seniors with dementia are easily distracted, and they must be in calm environments when eating. In addition to turning off all televisions and radios, make sure the table setting is simple and free of clutter. The only items that should be on the table are glasses, plates, and any silverware your loved one is using. You might also want to invest in plates and bowls that don’t have any busy designs or bright colours.
2. Keep Meals Simple
As a general rule, make sure the foods your loved one eats are simple. Creating extravagant meals might seem like a fun idea, but complicated dishes could further distract your loved one. Each meal should only consist of a few basic dishes, and you should try to cut up all the food into bite-sized pieces before you put the plate in front of your loved one.
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3. Lead by Example
Your loved one will most likely look to you for assistance when he or she is confused, which is why you need to eat as many meals together as possible. When your loved one is overwhelmed by a dish or piece of silverware, you can show him or her exactly what to do. Some seniors with dementia respond very well to verbal instructions, but many prefer to mimic loved ones when they’re confused.
4. Praise the Food
Complete disinterest in food is a common problem among those who have dementia, and you need to make each plate as appealing as possible. Proclaiming how delicious the food is after every few bites could make your loved one more likely to try the meal independently. You can also mention how your loved one used to enjoy that food or comment on how attractive the colours are.
Eating issues in the advanced stages of dementia can make caring for aging adults increasingly challenging. One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide in-home care. Edmonton families can turn to Home Care Assistance for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer 24-hour live-in care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties.
5. Try Smaller Meals
Trying to finish a larger meal might be nearly impossible in the later stages of this disease. Instead of preparing three big meals per day, offer five or six small snacks and dishes. Providing smaller dishes may be especially beneficial if you can’t get your loved one to focus on a single task for more than a few minutes.
6. Offer Plenty of Treats
Sticking to a nutritious diet is vital to a senior’s health, but there may come a point where your loved one no longer has an appetite. If he or she has difficulty eating enough calories, you might need to supplement healthy meals with less healthy treats. Foods such as sweetened protein shakes and energy bars are great options for seniors with dementia who are chronically underweight.
Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. Edmonton families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care. Call one of our friendly Care Managers today at (780) 490-7337 to learn more about our customized care plans.