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Getting a Senior Loved One with Alzheimer’s to Eat

It’s not unusual for Alzheimer’s caregivers in Columbus to encounter agitation, confusion, and an outright refusal to eat during mealtimes. Consequently, nutritional needs aren’t met, which may further compound health issues for seniors with AD. However, caregivers can take steps to make mealtimes less stressful.

Offer Meal Reminders and Assistance

In the early stages of the disease, seniors with Alzheimer’s may forget to eat or have difficulty remembering meal preparation steps. Caregivers can help by:

• Calling before mealtimes to offer reminders
• Leaving easy-to-follow preparation directions in the kitchen
• Planning family or group meals where assistance can be offered

Reduce Distractions

Mealtime distractions can make the agitation and confusion often associated with later stages of AD worse. Senior care providers in Columbus encourage caregivers to help reduce distractions by:

• Turing off the TV or radio
• Trying not to make or take calls or step away from the table for long periods of time
• Removing unnecessary objects from the table

Be Colorful

Some seniors with AD have trouble distinguishing the food from the plate or recognizing certain foods. Similarly, if foods don’t look visually appealing, they may fuss about eating those foods. Caregivers can address these problems by:

  • Adding a mix of colorful foods to the plate
  • Using plain white dishes to make it easier to distinguish food from the plate
  • Using plain red dishes to stimulate appetite
  • Placing different color foods next to each other

Make Foods Easier to Eat

Dexterity can be an issue as well, so make foods easy to eat with larger utensils or by adding finger foods to meals when possible. If chewing is an issue, be sure to cut foods into smaller pieces.

Make Mealtimes Social

Taking the focus off of food can encourage seniors with Alzheimer’s to join friends and family members in conversation while eating. Being flexible with the length of mealtimes can also help relieve stress seniors may feel if being rushed to finish.

Consider possible underlying causes like chronic conditions and depression that might also cause increased difficulty eating. Mouth sores and poor-fitting dentures can also be a contributing factor to eating problems for AD patients.

As your loved one’s Alzheimer’s disease progresses, he or she will likely need more care than you can manage on your own. To learn more about hourly or live-in elderly care Columbus families trust, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are experienced in memory care and every care plan includes mentally stimulating activities to help slow cognitive decline. Call (614) 481-8888 today and request a complimentary in-home consultation.