A healthy diet is an essential part of your senior loved one’s Alzheimer’s care plan. Your loved one needs proper nutrition to support brain function and slow the progression of the disease. While you may already help your parent prepare meals, getting him or her to eat regularly can be an entirely different challenge. These seven strategies can be effective for getting your loved one to eat throughout the day.
1. Maintain a Familiar Routine
A familiar routine makes it easier to transition to mealtime after doing another activity. A mealtime routine can be as simple as having your loved one wash his or her hands before sitting down at the table. You could also play a special song just before you eat, sending a signal to your loved one that it’s mealtime.
A trained Alzheimer’s caregiver can provide expertise and additional support to encourage your loved one to eat. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of elder care. Des Moines families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
2. Offer Simple Choices
Seniors with Alzheimer’s still have preferences for what they eat. Try offering your loved one a choice between two different types of food. For instance, you could ask if he or she wants chicken or beef for dinner. Feeling a sense of control over his or her meals may make your loved one more likely to try the dishes you serve.
3. Use Natural Seasonings to Enhance Flavor
Seniors usually experience a decrease in the sense of taste as they get older, but people with Alzheimer’s seem to have a greater reduction in the ability to taste, which can make eating meals unappealing. Since your loved one needs to avoid salt and fats because they’re unhealthy for the heart, you need to find other solutions to add flavor. Look for savory fresh herbs and spices to add to various foods. A sprinkle of chives can turn a plate of scrambled eggs into a delicious dish.
4. Pick Colorful Fruits and Vegetables
While you’re on the hunt for flavorful herbs, you also need to look at the colors of the foods you put on the plate. Colorful fruits and vegetables are more enticing in general. They also contrast with the background of a solid white dish, which helps seniors identify what they’re eating.
Helping a senior get proper nutrition when he or she doesn’t want to eat can be exhausting. If you’re the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality home care, Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age.
5. Make Mealtimes Fun
No one eats well when he or she is stressed or lonely. Try to maintain a lighthearted atmosphere during meals, and avoid telling your loved one what to eat. Professional home caregivers often serve as companions during meals, and they use tactics such as talking about the flavors of the food to get seniors interested in eating what’s been served.
6. Choose Foods that Are Easy to Ea6. t
A person with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty chewing and swallowing and using certain utensils. Try serving more finger foods, such as homemade chicken nuggets. Soft foods, such as mashed potatoes, are also good options.
7. Keep Mealtimes Calm and Unhurried
You may have a busy schedule as a caregiver, but your loved one needs time to finish his or her meals. Consider arranging for someone else to spend mealtimes with your loved one on days when you’re in a rush. Alternatively, you could have a professional caregiver handle the food prep so you can enjoy spending time with your loved one. In a calm atmosphere, your loved one may feel comfortable trying out new foods and taking the time to eat.
Professional caregivers with specialized experience in Alzheimer’s care can be a wonderful source of support for older adults with the disease. Without the right assistance, Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors and their families to manage. If you’re looking for professional Alzheimer’s care, Des Moines Home Care Assistance provides high-quality care aging adults and their families can count on. All of our hourly and live-in caregivers are trained to help seniors with Alzheimer’s live happier and healthier lives, and we also provide specialized dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. Reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (515) 264-2438 to schedule a free in-home consultation.