If you know someone who has Alzheimer's disease, you might already know that their eating behaviors are slightly different. Alzheimer's disease can affect the brain, which affects the person's normal behavioral patterns. They have problems with sensory abilities and memory, meaning they might not understand being hungry or full, or remember the last time they ate. This is why Alzheimer's care often includes monitoring and cooking meals. Here are some tips for providing meals for someone with Alzheimer's disease.
Know the Difficulties with Eating
The first thing you need to do is learn and understand what difficulties your loved one faces with Alzheimer's. Not only do they not always know when they are hungry or full, but the actual eating might not be as easy as it once was. They don't always grasp utensils or use them properly, and might not know how to eat food that is prepared for them. This depends on the severity of the Alzheimer's. Some people can use utensils, but they don't remember when they last ate, so you simply need to keep them on a regular eating schedule. Others may need more assistance.
Create a Calming Environment
Someone with Alzheimer's needs a calming and relaxing environment for optimal eating. Serve their meal in an area of their home that is quiet and inviting. Creating an eating routine is best, so choose one area of their home that they will be most comfortable for sitting down an eating a meal. This is usually a dining room table, but if your loved one feels more relaxed outdoors, there is no reason you can't serve meals on the patio. Keep in mind they need consistency, so choose one area that they will eat at least most of their meals.
Do Not Force Eating
It is not uncommon for your loved one to not be relaxed during meal time, no matter what routine or environment you have set up. It is very important that you remain calm and never force or argue your loved one. They have lost many senses, memories and logic, so arguing is not going to get you anywhere. Be reassuring and calm when recommending eating. If they become angry or agitated, try distracting them with another activity they enjoy.
You might find that your loved one is relaxed enough to eat a meal if their favorite song is on the radio or if the television is turned on.
Serve Smaller Meals
If you find that your loved one can only sit and eat for short periods of time before becoming impatient or agitated, serve smaller meals. Consider the nutritional content of these meals if they can only sit for a few minutes at a time. Be sure to pack in plenty of vitamins, minerals, protein and other essential nutrients, regardless of the size of the meal.
If you find that at-home care is beyond your ability to give your loved one, contact a care facility like Crimson Ridge Meadows.