Alzheimer’s is a notoriously challenging disease, for both patients and their loved ones. How can you help your loved one feel more comfortable during meal time?
From medication schedules and doctor’s appointments to the emotional and physical toll of providing care, the uncertainty of Alzheimer's symptoms can be heartbreaking.
One of the biggest concerns for patients and their caregivers is the issue of nutrition.
How do you ensure that your loved one is getting the nutrients they need each day?
How do you manage their meals, especially if they are unable to cook or grocery-shop on their own?
Bluebird Homecare has extensive training and certification in Alzheimer’s caregiving. We know how difficult it is to balance the demands of nutrition with the many challenges presented by this perilous disease.
To help you navigate the process, we’ve listed a few “must-knows” about nutrition, meal-time, and Alzheimer’s.
Meal Time Can Be Tough
Alzheimer’s can create a drastic change in both the way food tastes and in the way a person experiences eating.
Because Alzheimer’s can decrease the amount of taste a person experiences, a patient with AD may choose to opt for extremely heavy or sugary foods, if not supervised.
They may also experience a decrease in appetite, linked to a decline in their ability to smell and taste.
An Alzheimer’s patient may also overindulge in food in uncharacteristic ways.
A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine: Journal of Biobehavioral Medicine conclusively linked the decreased operation of the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex with decreased dietary self-restraint. Dementia and Alzheimer’s can cause deterioration in this part of the brain, often causing a lack of self-control when it comes to eating.
An issue with overeating might require your loved one to have extra supervision and coaching during meal time.
Distractions Can Be Overwhelming During Meals
Alzheimer’s can cause an overwhelming amount of sensory perception.
Mealtime, with the sights, smells and textures of the foods, can be particularly tough for patients with dementia or AD.
You can minimize the distractions or overwhelming stimuli at mealtime by streamlining your dining area.
- Remove any unnecessary bright colors or complex textures from the dining area.
- Turn off any nearby televisions or radios
- Silence your cell phone or home phone ringer
- A white tablecloth and neutral-colored dishes might also help your loved stay focused on eating and not feel distracted by the environment during mealtime.
If your loved one gets easily overwhelmed with too much food, consider cutting their food into small pieces and presenting them one at a time. Doing so can help them focus on each bite individually, rather than feeling overwhelmed at the presence of an entire plate of food.
It's Important to Monitor Fluid Consumption
Another issue with Alzheimer’s (and aging in general) is a decrease in the sensation of thirst.
For Alzheimer’s patients who are on multiple medications, dehydration may be exacerbated when coupled with a lack of thirst.
It’s important that caregivers closely monitor their loved one or patient’s intake of water throughout the day, and especially at mealtime. Difficulty chewing or swallowing can make mealtime a hazard if there aren’t adequate fluids nearby to soften food and ease the experience of swallowing.
Choose Caregivers Who Understand the Intricacies of Nutrition and Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s caregiving is a full-time job, and meal time is a big part of that equation.
Choosing a caregiver that understands the sensitive aspects of providing meals and adequate nutrition for a patient with AD is vital.
Bluebird Homecare has multiple certifications from the Institute for Professional Care Education, with special certification in dementia care.
Each of our caregivers has passed a training course in the specifics of the disease and has expert knowledge on how to provide the very best care for patients with AD.
From personal care and grooming to meal preparation, companionship and assistance with the Activities of Daily Living, our team can help your loved one live a full, secure life in their own home.
To learn more about how Bluebird can make life easier for your loved one with Alzheimer’s, please contact us today.