Good nutrition is important for seniors, but those with dementia often experience challenges getting the right nutrients. This may be because seniors living with dementia may have a reduced appetite, be too distracted at mealtimes, or have problems feeding themselves. If you’re concerned about your loved one’s health, consider talking to a home health aide near Memphis. Specialized elder care services are available for individuals with dementia, including assistance with meal preparation and feeding.
Elder care providers can assist your loved one with a decline in appetite. Among seniors with dementia, poor appetite is often attributable to poorly fitted dentures, changes in medications, and the lack of sufficient exercise. Some people may not want to eat because they no longer recognize the food or because they no longer have a strong sense of taste and smell. It may be helpful to serve five or six smaller meals instead of three main meals. Preparing the individual’s favorite foods and encouraging him or her to move a little more may both help improve his or her appetite.
Individuals with dementia have trouble with stimulating environments. They may have trouble eating if there are too many distractions present, which can inhibit their ability to get all the nutrients they need . Elder care providers often prefer to keep the television and radio turned off during mealtimes. It can also be helpful to eliminate clutter to encourage a calm environment. For example, it’s best to remove the vase of flowers or bowl of fruit from the table during mealtimes. Only set down the plate of food, a napkin, and needed utensils.
It may take an hour or longer for an individual with dementia to consume a meal. Fortunately, dementia care providers have plenty of time to sit with the individual and keep him or her company while eating. It’s generally preferable to allow the individual to retain as much independence as possible while eating, even if self-feeding becomes messy. The caregiver may serve bite-sized finger foods to encourage the individual’s self-feeding abilities. During the mid-to late stages of dementia, it can be helpful to prepare foods in a way that minimizes difficulty chewing and swallowing, such as by grinding up foods or serving soft foods.