For many of the nearly six million people throughout the United States who are living with Alzheimer’s disease, getting adequate nutrition becomes more challenging as they progress with the disease. Your senior may struggle with not having an appetite, experiencing changes in their senses of smell and taste that impact how they enjoy food, may not recognize food, and may not even remember how or why to eat. As a family caregiver, it is very important for you it to make encouraging your senior to get adequate nutrition and important focus of your care routine. What your senior eats can make a tremendous impact on their health and well-being, and even how they cope with the progression of the disease.
Use these mealtime tips to help a senior with Alzheimer’s disease get proper nutrition:
- Establish a routine, and present meals and snacks at the same time each day. This will not only help to regulate your parents appetite, but can also make eating more predictable or your senior. This way, even if they do not feel hungry, or understand why they should eat, it becomes a predictable and expected part of the structure of their day and they are more willing to go along with it without question
- Focus on healthy, balanced nutrition, but recognize the cumulative effect of nutrition. Rather than expecting your senior to eat all of the food groups at each meal, keep track of what they eat throughout the day and spread out the nutrients they need over all of their meals and snacks
- Strive to eliminate food additives and elements that are less healthy for your parents, and that may actually have a negative effect, such as saturated fats, cholesterol, sodium, and refined sugar
- When it is time for a meal, bring your parent to a specified area of their home, such as the kitchen or dining room table. Be sure this area of the house is not being used for something else so your senior can focus completely on eating
- Many elderly adults living with Alzheimer’s disease become overwhelmed by too many options. Instead of giving them all of the types of food available at the same time, offer a small amount of one or two foods, give them the opportunity to eat them, and then offer a small amount of one or two other foods until they have consumed the entire intended meal
- Avoid using scented candles or room fresheners in the area where your parent will be eating. These can interfere with the smell and taste of the food, causing your parent to become confused and not interested in the food
- Take the time to eat with your parents. This gives them valuable social interaction and emotional support, but also lets you act as a model for your parent. As they watch you eat, they will be better able to eat on their own
- Set the table with a white tablecloth, and then use brightly colored plates and utensils. This makes it easier for your senior to focus on the food because it will stand out better from the plates, and the plates will be more readily noticeable on the tablecloth
As the family caregiver of an aging adult living with Alzheimer’s disease, the decisions you make for your care routine are critical from the earliest stages of the disease. Alzheimer’s disease is a progressive disease, meaning it will worsen, and your senior will experience more challenges and symptoms as time passes. Organizing effective and meaningful care from the very beginning ensures your senior has continuous access to care, support, and assistance designed with their health and well-being in mind. Integrating an elderly care provider can be a fantastic way to make this care as effective as possible. An elderly home care services provider offers a customized set of services designed to help your parent cope with their individual challenges and needs in the best ways now, and prepare them for the future. This can give both of you greater confidence, ease stress, and allow you to focus more on quality of life and your parent-child relationship.
IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING ELDERLY CARE IN MINT HILL, NC, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT GOLDEN HEART SENIOR CARE OF CHARLOTTE. (704) 246-5806.