A common but lesser-known aspect of Alzheimer’s and other dementias is loss of appetite. Add to this that as mental and 1physical function decline, skills such as using a fork or spoon, and drinking from a cup can also be lost. Ensuring that someone with a dementia gets proper nutrition requires planning.
If nutrition is an issue for your loved one with Alzheimer’s or other dementia, try the following tips to ensure that every bite counts:
- Trash the junk. Cut out as much processed and empty-calorie junk foods as possible. For someone who has trouble eating, every bite counts.
- Step up the nutrients. Even healthy foods can be improved by adding protein powder or puréed vegetables (or both!). Most of the time, you can add nutrients to recipes without affecting the taste.
- Put first things first. Dementia patients can lose interest while eating, so be sure to serve the most nutritious food first.
- Make it easy. Does your loved one knock food off their plate? There are special plates and utensils designed to help people with dementia eat more easily.
- Keep it small. Finger foods, such as chicken nuggets and fish sticks, are a good idea if your loved one is having trouble using cutlery.
- .. People with dementia do better in a quiet setting without noise and distractions. This certainly includes electronics such as phones, and may even include conversation.
- Keep it simple. Avoiding distractions might mean avoiding patterned plates and tablecloths. The patterns often make it difficult for a person with dementia to identify where the food is.
- Keep them company. Sit with your loved one and eat with them. Even if you’re limiting conversation, by modeling eating you show them that it is time for them to eat as well.
- Take your time. Don’t expect a quick meal. Allowing extra time will prevent frustration for both of you.
- Be understanding. The nature of dementia is that there are better days and worse days. Don’t let a difficult day throw you off.
These tips will help you help your loved one eat properly, but you will still need to watch out for weight loss. Nutritionists and dietitians that specialize in helping older people eat, such as the staff of Atlantic Coast Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center, in Lakewood, NJ, can help you ensure adequate nutrition for your loved one if eating has become a serious problem.
Atlantic Coast provides care that is specifically designed to address the needs of individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s, dementia, or other cognitive disorders.
For the safety and well-being of cognitively impaired residents, Atlantic Coast offers a separate secure unit. The wide corridors are homelike and easy to navigate, creating an environment with a sense of familiarity and security.
The Alzheimer’s unit caregivers are specially trained to care for memory impaired residents. With their extra sensitivity and understanding of the condition and its impact, our caregivers treat each resident with dignity and love.
The cognitively impaired care program helps patients maximize their cognitive function. Likewise, the activities program is designed to foster social interaction and an appreciation of life.
For patients in more advanced stages, innovative sensory therapies such as audiovisual stimuli and aromatherapy are beneficial in inducing a sense of calm.
Or better yet, come see for yourself: Contact us to schedule a tour by calling 732-364-7100, or by clicking here.