Ensuring Your Loved One with Dementia is Eating Well
One of dementia’s main hallmarks is forgetfulness, and that often includes important tasks like eating and drinking. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, making sure that person is eating well and staying hydrated is critical for his or her well-being.
While forgetfulness is a main reason that people with depression don’t take in enough nutrition and hydration, other reasons include depression, physical disabilities, pain, fatigue, constipation and related digestive distress, and problems communicating their needs. Their medications may also suppress their appetites.
According to the Alzheimer’s Society in London, weight loss is the main sign that your loved one may be forgetting to eat enough. That’s relatively easy to spot, but signs of dehydration are more subtle. Watch for increased confusion, headaches, constipation and urinary tract infections.
If you spot any warning signs or just have a gut feeling that your loved one isn’t eating or drinking at a healthy level, here are some tips from the Alzheimer’s Society to encourage the person to eat and drink:
Make Sure The Food Is Appetizing
Ensure that your loved one has access to food that he or she likes. Heat dishes up in the microwave and serve them warm — they lose their appeal as they grow colder, so heat and serve one small portion at a time.
Encourage Eating And Drinking
If the person isn’t interested in a big meal, offer smaller snacks throughout the day. Do this at times when the person seems awake and alert because fatigue often interferes with the desire to eat or drink.
Offer Soft Foods
If your loved one has problems swallowing or other physical difficulties, foods like scrambled eggs, oatmeal and smoothies will go down easier.
Get The Person Involved At Mealtimes
People with dementia may have trouble recognizing food or remembering its purpose. Explain what it is and involve them at mealtimes by having them help with setting the table or giving them a very simple preparation task.
Provide Finger Foods
Some people with cognitive problems also have issues with physical coordination. Having access to food that’s easy to pick up and maneuver into the mouth may increase consumption. Offer options like sandwiches, fruit or vegetables slices, chopped up hot dogs and hunks of cheese, and serve drinks in a no-spill cup.
Don’t Take Food Away Too Quickly
A person with dementia may have concentration problems or eat slowly because he or she feels tired. Don’t try to hurry your loved one, and let the food stay out for a while even if he or she has paused in eating.
Caregiving is a challenging task, and making sure your loved one gets enough to eat and drink is just one of many considerations. These tips should help you ease that worry by making it a little easier to help the person take in more food and beverages.