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Alzheimer’s Care: Solving Common Eating Problems

By Cherie Coe, 8:00 am on

Not being able or wanting to eat foods is common among seniors with Alzheimer’s. For instance, a senior may not get vital vitamins and nutrients because a sensory or motor issue impedes their ability to eat independently. A senior might also be experiencing a lack of appetite as the result of medications or changes resulting from the natural aging process.

By identifying your loved one’s specific eating obstacles and working with his or her doctor, you can devise a plan to promote healthy and regular eating. The following are a few other tips from premier home care provider, Jefferson County Home Care Assistance, to help overcome common eating problems.

Encourage Appetite

Seniors often experience a decline in appetite with age, and the same goes for those with Alzheimer’s. To combat this problem, employ the following strategies:

  • Offer smaller, more frequent meals throughout the day as opposed to three set meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Serve one type of food at a time to prevent anxiety over too many choices
  • Add flavor with garlic, onions and herbs can help create more flavorful foods, making meals more appealing to seniors experiencing a decreased sense of taste

Overcome Motor Issues

Alzheimer’s can result in a loss of motor skills, which may affect all areas of life, including eating meals. To assist your loved one, you can:

  • Show your loved one how to use utensils to eat certain foods; showing them a scooping motion allows them to mimic what you are doing and can promote independent eating
  • Serve finger foods that are easily picked up
  • Remain as patient and calm as possible as showing frustration or anger can discourage your loved one from trying to eat

Create an Inviting Atmosphere

Due to sensory issues, many seniors with Alzheimer’s become particular about their eating environments—they may even forego eating if the atmosphere just isn’t right. To create a more inviting atmosphere:

  • Serve colorful foods which can help to stimulate appetite
  • Use plates and bowls that have contrasting colors from the food being served so your loved one can clearly identify the foods on his or her plate
  • Avoid patterned dishes, as these can cause more confusion
  • Minimize background noise and keep dinner to a few familiar faces to ensure the meal does not become overwhelming
  • Allow for plenty of time to eat – mealtime should be a time of relaxation and enjoyment for the whole family.

If your aging parent or loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and is starting to experience some of the more complex symptoms such as the inability to eat, perform personal care activities, or walk without assistance, it may be time to seek help from professional caregivers. At Home Care Assistance of Jefferson County, we have a team of specialized Alzheimer’s caregivers who can provide hourly and 24 hour home care in Jefferson County. Care is available on a flexible schedule that you decide, and you’ll never be asked to sign a long-term contract.

For more information about in-home Alzheimer’s care in Jefferson County, reach out to a friendly and experienced Care Manager and schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation.