We all understand that healthy eating is important but in our fast-paced, over occupied culture, we can never seem to find the time or willpower to implement a well-balanced diet. For a person suffering from Alzheimer’s, it might prove to be even more challenging when they are dealing with loss of memory and confusion about food.
Alzheimer’s disease is one of the most common type of Dementia and it is not unusual for individuals with Alzheimer’s to stop eating or drinking in the later stages.
This one of the troubling aspects of Alzheimer’s, and they often mark the tail end of a person’s independence. It is paramount to have proper nutritional intake daily and often, Alzheimer’s patients can’t get it on their own.
Taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s is difficult, let alone setting time aside for meal preparation. Nevertheless, here are some ways we can help our loved ones maintain a healthy diet.
Forgetting how to chew and swallow, insufficient physical activity, decreasing sense of smell and taste can all lead to a loss in appetite.
What to do:
Preparing familiar food in familiar ways, especially with their favourite foods
Offer meals at regular times each day
Encourage physical exercise
Moisten food with gravies and sauces if a dry mouth is causing problems
Offer small meals or snacks more often
2. Mealtime’s Strategies
During the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, changes in taste, smell and perception can be a back-breaking situation.
What to do:
Use utensils or dishes that are easier to handle such as a spoon and bowl
Prepare food that are easy to eat. Bite-sized finger foods like tuna sandwiches, steamed broccoli, and apple slices
Help them to focus on the more nutritious, higher-calories food in the meal first
Eat with the person so that they can imitate you
Don’t serve food and drinks that are too hot
3. Create a calm and conducive environment
Creating a positive and relaxed mealtime environment can have a huge impact on the willingness to eat for Alzheimer’s patient. We can create a supportive environment to encourage them to eat more.
What to do:
Serve one course at a time and remove other distracting items from the table
Allow plenty of time to eat
Ensure there is adequate lighting
Minimise noise and activities in the environment
Let the person feed him or herself independently
4. Provide a nutritional meal
A healthy diet is essential for good health and nutrition. A well-balanced diet provides energy you need to function well and nutrients for growth and repair
What to do:
Provide plenty of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits option
Go for fat-free or low-fat dairy products such as fish, poultry, beans, nuts, and vegetable oils
Low calorie snacks such as apples and carrots
Limit saturated and trans-fat intake. Fatty meats and full-fat dairy products
Minimise food and drinks that contain added sugars
It is painful to see a shell of a person and wonder what they could have been. Don’t be afraid to try out new approaches with people that are suffering from Alzheimer’s. You might go through many different options until you find the one that works. Reach out to your family, friends, Alzheimer’s Association, or support groups to ask for help if needed.
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