Apr 15, 2018 by Comfort Keepers of San Marcos
Whether your senior lives alone and you’re caregiving from afar, or they live at home with you, keep these tips in mind to help ensure they’re eating good quality and quantity meals:
Early-stage Alzheimer’s usually does not cause habits to change, and this includes eating habits. If your senior has always been good about eating a few times a day and making food safely for themselves, then they’re most likely okay in this phase of the disease.
It’s when you notice certain changes that you may need to step in more. Some examples are:
Other changes come in the later stages of the disease, but it’s important for you to recognize these initial changes so that you can help them.
No, this does not mean giving them ice cream for every meal of the day.
However, preparing foods they enjoy has many benefits in regards to their cognitive state. For starters, they may regain a sense of appetite and actually want to eat. This may help them to eat more than they normally would, too.
Additionally, they’ll feel more confident in eating. Many seniors who have troubles with cooking or eating feel scared to eat because they’ll choke or because they have an overall negative viewpoint on food now. Making foods they know they like will increase their confidence and encourage them to eat.
Your senior may be more inclined to eat if you all sit around together and make mealtime a social event. Having snippets of happy conversation and the feeling of togetherness can help set a positive tone for the meal, thus encouraging your senior to eat.
With Alzheimer’s, eating will become more of a forced task than a subconscious one. Before, they were able to take appropriate bites of food and without thinking know when to swallow after chewing. Now, it may require much more focus, smaller bites, and increased chewing. Certain foods may become too tough or dry to eat, too.
It’s important to be patient with them. Cut their food into smaller bites, and give them more time to eat. Everyone may already be done with their meals before they are, but don’t rush them. It’s not that they don’t want to eat; they just need more time these days.
If your senior lives alone and is in need of assistance, you can prepare meals for them in advance to keep in the fridge. This way, they can just pop the container in the microwave (or if they’re still able to, portion out a serving and heat it up in the oven) and they’ll have a nutritious meal ready in minutes, without all the fuss of preparation.
There are also services that deliver ready-to-eat meals to seniors at their homes, such as Meals on Wheels. Check out their website here.