If you are caring for a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you’re probably aware of the challenges that come with trying to feed that loved one. Mealtime can be a stressful encounter for individuals with Alzheimer’s, as well as caregivers. Rather than looking at meals as a challenge, look at them as opportunities—opportunities to connect with loved ones, reflect on the day, and work together to produce a lovely meal! Here are some hurdles that caregivers might cross and mealtime suggestions.
Eating-related Alzheimer’s challenges can result from:
Assessing the mealtime situation can help caregivers understand what is happening from the care recipient’s perspective and resolve problems. Family members and other caregivers should assess:
It is important for the caregiver to note whether the person is eating and drinking enough. Caregivers should monitor the individual’s weight and eating habits to assess any nutrition-related issues and pay particular attention to:
Change can be difficult for all parties involved, so maintaining lifelong preferences and eating habits can make the process easier. Maintaining a sense of normality adds pleasure and reassurance, as well as eases the tension that often arises during mealtimes. Routines provide important cues that it is time to eat. Suggestions in doing this include:
Proper nutrition is important to keep the body strong and healthy. These simple tips can help boost your loved one with Alzheimer’s health, as well as yours:
Looking at preparing a meal, setting the table, and enjoying a meal together as an opportunity can help overcome some of the challenges associated with mealtimes. For example, preparing and eating a meal is an opportunity for those with Alzheimer’s to maintain functional skills and feelings of personal control. Plus, having positive interactions during the mealtime process can boost the morale of everyone involved.
It is the caregiver’s responsibility to understand the possible challenges, assess how those challenges can be overcome, as well as provide a well-balanced meal. The individual with Alzheimer’s sole responsibility should be to enjoy mealtime and provide an occasional laugh at the dinner table. We all have to eat, so why not enjoy the process.