When your loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer's or dementia, it can be overwhelming for both you and your loved one. One thing that becomes extremely challenging is mealtime. This is because your loved one's cognitive function will begin to decline, which leads to your family member feeling overwhelmed with the number of food choices in front of them, finding it difficult to use utensils to eat with, and sometimes even forgetting to eat a meal. However, adequate nutrition is important for your loved one to remain healthy and to avoid unnecessary weight loss and behavioral symptoms. Here are three tips that will help you to make mealtime and eating in general a little easier on your loved one with Alzheimer's:
Tip #1: Try to Limit the Overall Distractions.
For a person with Alzheimer's, the smallest of distractions can take their mind away from the task at hand, which is eating a healthy meal. Therefore, it is important that eating take place in a quiet environment with no music, television, etc. In addition, it is important that the table setting is as simple as possible. Don't try to make it fancy with a vase of beautiful flowers or a bowl of plastic fruit, as this can be confusing and distracting. Instead, the table should only include the needed utensils for eating, the beverage that your loved one will be drinking, and the plate of food that will be eaten.
Tip #2: Make Sure the Food Can Be Distinguished From the Plate.
When individuals develop Alzheimer's and dementia, they find it difficult to differentiate the food that they're eating from the plate and even the plate or bowl from the table. To help with this, you should avoid patterned and contrasting colors in your dishes, placemats, and tablecloths. In fact, the best color for the dishes would probably be white.
Tip #3: Consider Only Serving a Couple of Foods at One Time.
People with Alzheimer's tend to get overwhelmed very easily. When they are presented with too many opportunities or choices at a time, they can become very emotional and frustrated. Therefore, at mealtime, consider only serving one or two dishes at one time. For example, you could start with a serving of mashed potatoes, follow by a serving of Salisbury steak.
The aforementioned tips will help make mealtimes with your loved one a lot more manageable for not only you but your loved one with Alzheimer's as well. When things get to a point to where you do not feel like you can provide your loved one with the care that he or she needs, there are special assisted living facilities for individuals with the Alzheimer's disease.