Last week, we discussed how dementia and Alzheimer’s can affect eating and provided several tips to help make mealtime easier for both you and your loved one. Today, we wrap up our series on mealtime and dementia with three more strategies to help increase the quality of life of someone with dementia when eating and drinking:
- Even after language abilities have declined, people with dementia are often very aware of the moods of those around them and will pick up on nonverbal cues if you are rushed or feeling stressed. Feeling rushed during a meal can create anxiety and cause a person to stop eating before they have had enough to eat. Try to speak in a soothing tone, mind your facial expression, and avoid abrupt movements.
- Difficulty eating can often be made worse by fatigue. If there are foods that are more difficult for the person with dementia to eat, it may be best to present them at earlier meals rather than later. However, each person has their own individual patterns, so it is always best to observe your loved one’s particular tendencies and cater to them. For example, if they are able to eat the most at lunch time or are particularly alert at breakfast, make sure a range of healthy, calorie-rich foods are available at that time so they can get the most nutrition possible.
- Often people with dementia have difficulty using utensils but are still able to feed themselves. This can be problematic when your loved one tried to eat soup or mashed potatoes with their hands, but the problem can be readily resolved by providing finger foods as much as possible. There are many nutritious foods that can be eaten with your hands. Think outside the box and find new ways to present food that can allow the person with dementia to forego utensils and continue to feed themselves for as long as possible.
Are you a caregiver for someone with dementia? What challenges have you faced during mealtime and how have you and your family overcome them? Share your story in the comments section below!
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