Seniors with Alzheimer’s are especially susceptible to poor nutritional habits. The end result, if left untreated, is serious health problems. Poor nutrition will not only increase the risk of developing health issues but also will negatively affect emotional and cognitive health. This post will teach you how to help your loved one fulfill all of their nutritional needs.
Make Sure That Snacks Are at Hand
It’s not always feasible to sit down to have a large meal 3 times a day at the proper meal times. That’s why your kitchen must have enough healthy snacks. Also, your loved one may be more willing to eat when he doesn’t need utensils or tableware to do so. Some of the best snacks for people with Alzheimer’s are hard-boiled eggs, berries, nuts, and sliced vegetables.
Make The Home Relaxing
Distractions can make it hard for someone with Alzheimer’s to focus on a single thing. That’s why their environment must be distraction-free so that they can relax and eat in peace. To the best of your ability, try to limit shadows, loud noises, and reflective surfaces. If your neighborhood has a lot of noise pollution, consider investing in a white noise machine. Alternatively, you can use a white noise app on your phone. Assisted living communities can also be a great source of support for your loved one with Alzheimer’s. At Sabal Palms, he can receive professional memory care for Alzheimer’s.
Make MealTimes Simpler
Unfortunately, simple objects like spoons and forks will become more confusing to your loved one over time. To simplify mealtime for them, you can start cutting up their meals for them before they eat, and then place just one utensil on the table so that they hopefully don’t get confused. Keep in mind though that some seniors with Alzheimer’s prefer to eat with their hands. If that’s the case, then finger foods will be great for him. Finger foods can be messy to eat, but it will be worthwhile for your loved one as long as he eats more food.
Show, Don’t Tell
Whatever you do, don’t beg your loved one to eat. It will only make you feel more stressed, and your loved one more agitated. The best thing to do is to try and make the food more yummy to entice him to eat. At mealtime, you can sit across from him and start eating your meal to show him how it’s done. That way, he’ll understand how the utensils should be used. You could also comment on how good the food tastes and what the unique flavor of each dish is.
Limit Dinner Table Chatter
Once the food is laid out, and you’re both ready to eat, keep the chit chat to a minimum. The reason why is that it will be too difficult for your loved one to focus on his meal. Of course, this rule isn’t set in stone – you are allowed to comment on the quality of the food and sometimes ask a simple question. But for the most part, mealtime should be kept as quiet as possible.
Best Nutritious Snacks for Alzheimer’s
Nutrition is critical for everyone. It keeps the body healthy and strong. It’s even more important for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. If they eat poorly, then they can experience weight loss or negative behavioral patterns.
These tips below will help improve your loved one’s health and yours as well.
- Expect a challenge. Nutritious meals are harder to prepare and consume in general. That is even more true for those with Alzheimer’s and dementia who are already experiencing a decline in cognitive function. The result is that your loved one may feel overwhelmed by the number of food choices. He may then forget to eat his meals, and he may also have trouble handling the food utensils to eat his healthily prepared meals.
- Make his diet varied and balanced. The best snacks for people with Alzheimer’s are lean protein snacks, vegetables, low-dairy snacks, fruits, and whole-grain snacks.
- Try to reduce high saturated fats and cholesterol. Of course, some healthy fat is necessary for a good diet. But you should limit or avoid unhealthy fats because these are bad for heart health. Avoid solid shortening, cuts of fatty meat, lard, and limit butter.
- Limit refined sugars. Refined sugars are often present in processed foods. While they do contain calories, they lack important vitamins, fiber, and minerals. If he needs to satisfy his sweet tooth, pass him some juice or baked goods that are sweetened with juice instead. However, if your loved one is already in late-stage Alzheimer’s, then adding some sugar to foods to encourage eating is necessary and ok.
- Reduce high sodium food and salt usage. The majority of Americans use too much salt and consume far too much sodium. That also increases blood pressure. A healthier alternative to make foods taste better are herbs and spices. These can be used to season the food and also taste delicious!
In case your loved one has already seen their Alzheimer’s progress too far, loss of appetite and weight loss may become insurmountable problems for you to deal with. That’s when it’s time to visit a doctor with your loved one. The doctor might recommend your loved one take supplements in between meals in order for him to get more calories in his diet.
Another problem that your loved one might have is staying hydrated. To encourage him to drink more fluids, offer smaller cups of water or other types of liquids at different times of the day. You could also increase the number of high water content foods in his diets, such as smoothies, fruit, milkshakes, and soups.
Making sure that a loved one with Alzheimer’s gets enough food can feel like a full-time job for families and caregivers. Sabal Palms is an assisted living home for seniors with dementia and Alzheimer’s, and we’d be glad to help you out.