How to Assist Eating for Your Loved One with Alzheimer’s Disease
Seniors with dementia and other Alzheimer’s disease can find a hard balance on getting the right nutritional value in the food they eat. Below are some tips with foods that may help your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease stay healthy.
Maintaining Nutritional Balance
Poor eating habits can induce stress for both the person with Dementia and the caregiver. If the deprived routine is kept up, weight loss or poor eating behavior should be expected. A study done by Dementia researchers, asked Caregivers and patients a series of questions, about eating habits and helping patients eat. The results showed many things including:
- The stage of dementia must be known for nutritional needs
- If the person is suffering from stress or anxiety, they are less likely to be willing to eat
- Knowing a person’s background is essential to knowing what they should eat
- Changes occur in the person’s tastes and preferences as dementia worsens
- The time of day greatly affects a person’s appetite
- Increasing fluid intake is essential
- Consistent care management is crucial in preventing weight loss
People that have Alzheimer’s disease sometimes forget that they have eaten a meal and eat a second meal right after eating the first. Or, a senior may think that they have eaten a meal and therefore they skip a meal. To make sure your loved one has the right nutrient levels, you can take them to their doctor to get routine blood work done. This will show if your loved one’s nutrient levels are properly balanced.
Assisting with Meals
Caregivers and family members should frequently check around the kitchen (cabinets and refrigerator) to make sure that your loved one isn’t hiding food or forgetting to eat. You should also keep easy non-perishable snacks in plain sights, such as on the counter, to remind your loved one to eat.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease may often have trouble cooking meals that are complicated. They may forget an entire section of the recipe or a single ingredient. The interactive caregivers should always make sure that the person with Alzheimer’s disease has pre-made healthy foods on demand.
Seniors with Alzheimer’s disease may sometimes forget or deliberately “forget” to drink enough fluids to decrease the urination frequency. Your caregiver should ensure that the senior with Alzheimer’s has easy access to as many liquids as possible. This does not have to be limited to just beverages. Popsicles, soup, nutritious shakes, and fruit juice are great examples of creative ways to keep your loved one hydrated!
Changes in Eating Habits
The eating habits of Alzheimer’s disease patients may stop varying in later stages. Sometimes seniors with Alzheimer’s disease only stick to a particular type of diet with their favorite foods such as soup and soda. This can result in vitamin deficiency and ultimately weight loss.
Caregivers for someone with Alzheimer’s disease need to make sure that their diet is nutritious and diverse. A good diet for your loved one to follow will contain foods that are high in Vitamins. This is especially important since many seniors may have trouble grocery shopping. Studies have proven that Vitamin B is essential in the diet of elders with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia due to its ability to help prevent cognitive delay.
Helpful Tips for Balanced Diets
In a New York study, there was a greater risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease when there were higher intakes of fat and saturated fat in four years. This means to stay away from fatty meats, a lot of butter, cheese, or other dairy products that contain 2% fat.
To stay away from these saturated fats and prevent cognitive delay, consider adding these foods to your loved one with Alzheimer’s Diseases’ diet:
- Leafy greens
- Dairy products
- Enriched Whole grain products
- Foods high in Protein
- Healthy fluids and beverages
It is also important to remember how to minimize risk with your loved one when they are eating. In the later stages of Alzheimer’s disease, eating can sometimes lead to choking. When eating, be aware of these safety concerns and take note of these tips to prevent choking;
- Prepare foods that are easy to swallow. Cut foods into smaller pieces, grind them, or serve soft foods to prevent choking.
- Supervise patients during Mealtimes. Caregivers have found that patients are less willing to “pocket” (hide food) or choking on food when someone is assisting them while eating.
- Stop Dry Mouth. Dip food into liquids such as tea or milk to make it softer to eat or help remind them to take a sip of a beverage after each bite.
Need Help During Meal Times?
Comfort Keepers provides quality in-home care or respite care services for your loved one with Alzheimer’s disease. If you are in search of a high-quality in-home care provider, look no further. If you are interested in our services or want to talk to one of our Philadelphia-based caregivers, contact us at (877) 698-9394.