As we prepare for more holiday cheer even after Thanksgiving, we truly understand how caring for a person with Alzheimer’s takes special attention and patience, especially when stress is already in abundance. For instance, preparing a meal for your loved one may often be a challenge. Depending on the stage of Alzheimer’s, your loved one might have mood swings or lose their appetite. Therefore, it is important to develop a good practice for making mealtimes easier, not just for Thanksgiving or any other holiday, but for everyday eating.
In addition to the tips mentioned in a previous entry about accommodating dementia during the holidays, you may also want to follow these suggestions for making mealtime a smoother experience for both the Alzheimer’s patient and those who care for them.
- Be sure to check with a doctor about your loved one if they aren’t eating or have lost their appetite. There might be factors, such as other health complications or medications, which could cause a disinterest in eating. Remember too that certain stages of dementia may cause a degeneration of the sense of taste and smell, which can also decrease appetite.
- You may want to help your loved one by reminding them to eat, as it is common for people with Alzheimer’s to forget to do so. Also, it is often necessary to guide your loved one through preparing their food (cutting the food into small pieces if needed) and making sure they know how to heat and use appliances properly.
- People with Alzheimer’s have a difficult time utilizing their senses and applying judgment to everyday tasks. It might be helpful to ensure that table setting colors create a large enough contrast between items. For instance, the plates should contrast in color from the table cloth. This ultimately prevents confusion for your loved one. Using only solid colors helps as well.
- Try to limit distractions by keeping a schedule and eating at the same time every day, turning off televisions and phones during meal time, and maybe keeping a designated spot for your loved one to sit at the table.
Serving foods that are easy to eat, such as finger foods that are not messy or sticky, help as well. In addition, asking your loved one about what would make eating a more comfortable experience can ease some of the stress that may come at mealtime. Find these tips and more at Mayoclinic and StrengthforCaring.com.
Charlotte Bishop is a Geriatric Care Manager and founder of Creative Case Management, certified professionals who are geriatric advocates, resources, counselors and friends to older adults and their families in metropolitan Chicago. Please email your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.