Promoting good nutrition supports mental well-being, energy levels and better health and is an important part of Alzheimer’s and dementia care. In our continuous pursuit to share educational resources for those providing care to individuals experiencing dementia, we’ve created 8 useful tips that may help with meal time preparation for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.
- Sensory consideration. When preparing a table setting, attempt to create a soothing atmosphere. It is best to limit distractions during meal time and create a calming atmosphere while eating. Agitation may be minimized by using a tablecloth with a solid color and eliminating table patterns.
- Eating as a social event. Make meal times a social event for those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s or other types of cognitive decline by enjoying dinner together and engaging in conversation. Endeavor to sit and eat with your loved one to oversee the quantity and the types of food he or she is consuming.
- Nutrition first. A healthy, well-balanced diet is an important part of a brain-healthy lifestyle. Barring any dietary restrictions, fresh fruit and whole wheat bread or crackers may help in reducing complications such as constipation.
- Coffee and teas. Caffeinated coffee and tea act as diuretics so these drinks should be consumed sparingly. As a result, caffeinated beverages can increase dehydration so be sure to offer water after caffeine consumption.
- Drink water: Maintaining appropriate hydration is crucial for a number of reasons, including managing constipation and avoiding urinary tract infections (UTIs). Unless there is a specific restriction, individuals should try to consume about 1 and ½ ounces of water for each pound in weight every day.
- Multiple meals a day: People with late stage Alzheimer’s and dementia may not recognize food nor remember when the most recent meal took place, so having multiple meals a day may help control hunger pangs, ensure they are meeting their daily intake of food and keep energy levels even.
- Potentially hazardous foods: When a person’s cognitive decline persists, lack of recognition of food and how to swallow food may begin. Be on the lookout for “pockets” accumulating in the inside check to avoid choking. Also plan to eliminate iceberg lettuce, which can be a significant choking hazard, and introduce soft foods and smoothies.
- Regular dental checkups: Be sure to keep up on regular dental checkups to avoid discomfort or pain with teeth or dentures.
In line with our Balanced Care Method™ and approach to healthy eating, we can change the perception of how meals appear while keeping in mind that no two people age the same. When we look at people independently, we can best determine an individual’s dietary preferences and provide them with the happiest, healthiest and tastiest lifestyle!