15 Mealtime Tips For Those Living With Dementia

15 Mealtime Tips For Those Living With Dementia

It’s dinnertime and you’ve prepared a delicious dinner for your family.

Your family enters the dining room and sits down at the table while you begin to serve the food.

Your mother, who has dementia and lives with you, begins to cause a commotion. She appears agitated about something.  You ask her what’s wrong? What is the problem and you cannot get a response that makes any sense.

Suddenly she picks up her plate and…  woman-licking-plate

You shudder at her behavior and voices escalate to the point where no one is having an enjoyable evening dinner. Mealtime has become a hassle instead of a time where you can reconnect as a family.

Does this sound familiar?

If things like this happen in your home, I have a suggestion. Start learning all you can about dementia and your role as a caregiver with my free download of “7 Easy Tips To Help You Care For Your Loved One Without Causing You Stress” CLICK HERE.  7-easy-tips-blue

Since eating with a person living with dementia can be quite challenging, I have prepared some practical tips that can help make mealtimes much more enjoyable.

  1. Try to minimize distractions. Turn off televisions, radios, and remove unnecessary items from the table.
  2. Make sure the foods you offer are appealing. They must be flavorful since taste changes in people who have dementia. Don’t be afraid to use onions, garlic, oregano, salt and pepper as well as other pungent spices. Also, try to use different textures and colors that offer interest as well as healthy choices.
  3. Try making nutritious homemade shakes and juices. Spinach, carrot and apple juice with a dash of protein powder, or kale, carrot, strawberries or any berries, grapes and chia or flax seeds. These are not only delicious, but are very healthy ways to get nutrients into your loved one. Be sure to use organic and non GMO ingredients.
  4. Since mealtimes are opportunities for social interaction , always communicate in a warm happy tone of voice.
  5. Make sure there is adequate lighting in the room so they can see the food on the plate.
  6. Is there enough contrast between the food and the color of the plate? Most people have white dishes and food often blends into the place and a person with dementia cannot see the food.  Consider purchasing colorful plates, cups and utensils. You can find them under Adaptive Products, red-tablewareby clicking here.  
  7. Loosen up on your social rules like eating with utensils.  If your loved one picks food up without using a fork or spoon don’t be alarmed.  You might want to provide only one utensil, or prepare and serve more finger foods.
  8. Sometimes in the early stages of dementia a person will be asking to eat over and over again. Be prepared to offer some engaging activities as an alternative to eating if your loved one has just finished a meal.
  9. Avoid rushing through meals and be sure to give your loved one plenty of time to finish eating. Try making this time calm and comfortable and as reassuring as possible. And remember to be patient.
  10. Maintain dental checkups and daily oral care. Make sure that dentures fit properly.
  11. Be sure your loved one is drinking fluids throughout the day because dehydration causes many problems such as constipation, confusion, delusions, dizziness which can lead to falls. When determining if your loved one is getting enough fluids consider the following: Beverages like water, coffee drinks, shakes, juice and soda are obvious sources of fluids. Ice, sherbet, gelatin and soup are counted as fluids. Generally, anything that is liquid at room temperature is counted as part of the daily fluid allowance.
  12. Your loved one may need adaptive eating utensils. You can see them HERE under Adaptive Products.
  13. Resolve issues that might arise such as depression, forgetting to put on glasses or hearing aids.  Notice if your loved one is taking medication that might be changing the taste of foods or suppressing their appetite.
  14. Check potential safety issues, such as not turning off the stove, or turning on hot water that may be set too high.
  15. Always be aware and address any choking hazards due to chewing or swallowing problems that most likely will increase as the disease progresses. Should you notice this happening, consult with your physician for a possible swallow evaluation.

Break Up The Monotony

Eating out is a nice way to take a break, socialize and experience a new environment. Sometimes eating out can be challenging.  Below are some suggestions for getting that so needed break!

  • Eat out in familiar places.
  • Go earlier or at non-peak times so that you have extra time and won’t feel overwhelmed.
  • Seniors menus, or just going for a snack can be fun can allow for spontaneity especially if your budget is tight.
  • Choose a well-lit, family-style restaurant.
  • Make sure you ask fro a quiet corner and be choosy.
  • If the menu is long and complicated, offer a few options to the person with dementia. Pictures on the menus help with making selections.
  • Does your loved one use a cane or a walker or wheelchair? Consider these things when deciding on the restaurant.
  • Remember your loved one may not be able to follow group conversation. Restating information to promote participation or asking a question to have information repeated can be helpful.
  • Enjoy fast food restaurants, coffee shops or finger-type foods if you are worried about spills or prefer to eat with your hands.

Being a care partner is hard work. You’ll have to continually learn new skills and ways or doing things differently.  Stay on top of the changes and join our online workshops which are starting soon.  If you would like to be kept in the loop CLICK HERE and enter your name and contact information and I will be sure to send you a special invitation.

Coming soon… Live Workshops where we will dive more deeply into topics that you choose!  Our first workshop will be announced soon. If you would like an invitation to stay in the loop enter your name and email HERE. This will not enroll you to our newsletter. You will only be advised of the date and time of our workshops. Check your spam folder in case the information ends up there!
I wish above all things that your would prosper and be in health, even as your soul prospers.

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Click Here To download  a free copy of:

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“7 Easy Tips To Help You Care For Your Loved One Living With Alzheimer’s/Dementia Without Causing You Stress”.
May God richly bless you always. “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” John 10:10

 

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