The symptoms of dementia can make eating and other daily activities challenging for the elderly. While seniors in general experience diminished appetites, dementia can also lead seniors to forget to eat or to develop feelings of paranoia about their food and the caregivers serving it. If your elderly loved one has dementia, you can encourage him or her to eat more with the following five strategies, from senior care experts at Oakville Home Care Assistance.
1. Serve Familiar Foods
When preparing food for your loved one, keep his or her food preferences in mind and avoid experimenting. If your loved one has previously enjoyed a particular dish, make the same dish the same way on a regular basis. While your loved one may develop new preferences over time or may not remember that he or she likes a particular food, typically seniors will be able to recognize and enjoy foods they have liked previously.
2. Encourage Independence
Dementia can sometimes cause seniors to forget basic eating skills. Re-teach your loved one how to use utensils if he or she is struggling and don’t worry about spills or messes at the table. This encourages your loved one to maintain independent and allows them to eat at his or her own pace. To further encourage independence, consider using spill-proof cups and spill-resistant plates to prevent messes that may discourage your loved one.
3. Serve Easy-to-Eat Foods
Bite-sized or finger foods may be preferable to complicated foods, like shellfish, or foods that require utensils. Try serving steamed broccoli florets, chicken nuggets, or other foods that can be eaten by hand. In addition to serving foods that are easy to eat, keep communication clear and direct. When asking your loved one if he or she would like something to drink, primarily use yes or no questions, like asking if he or she would like more milk rather than asking what he or she wants to drink.
4. Make Meals Social Events
If possible, eat meals with your loved one at the same time each day. Meals that are consumed with family members have been shown to encourage good eating habits among those with dementia. Maintain a positive atmosphere during mealtimes by discussing non-stressful ideas and events.
5. Serve Small and Frequent Meals
Aging can lead to a diminished appetite, so if your loved one isn’t eating much at mealtimes, serving smaller meals at regular intervals throughout the day may help. Offer a wide variety of foods, such as fresh fruits, lean proteins, and steamed vegetables, to ensure your loved one consumes a balanced diet.
If your elderly loved one has dementia or another memory condition like Alzheimer’s, he or she may benefit from the in-home assistance of a dementia or Alzheimer’s caregiver in Oakville. Expertly trained to help seniors with a variety of daily activities, including meal preparation and eating, as well as providing medication reminders and safety monitoring, a professional caregiver can help ensure your loved one stays safe and healthy in his or her own home. To ask questions about our care services, give a Care Manager a call at (905) 337-1200 and schedule a free no-obligation consultation.