Alzheimer’s is a disease that causes memory loss, negatively affects thinking skills, cognitive skills, and a person’s abilities.Over time it will have such a damaging effect that even regular daily activities become impossible. This progressive disease tends to show up in later life, but that’s not to say it can’t happen earlier. Among the many ways that Alzheimer’s can affect your patients, eating can become a problem. Here are some tips for feeding patients with Alzheimer’s.
Identify What’s Causing the Feeding Issue
To find a solution that works best for your patient you need to figure out why they have stopped eating. Is it related to memory, do they forget to eat? Maybe they are depressed, which is causing a lack of appetite. Perhaps the issue is their fine motor skills, and eating is a difficult task for them. Maybe they have a problem with chewing and swallowing, which is dangerous and could lead to choking when eating.
The feeding solution you use will need to address the root problem so that it’s effective and safe for the patient.
Dedicate Ample Time to Feeding
When a person with Alzheimer’s has trouble eating or being fed, the top tip is to slow down and give them ample time. Meals shouldn’t be rushed, so that means you need to factor them into your schedule accordingly. Mealtime should be calm and quiet to get the best results.
Switch Up the Order of the Meals
Typically people have the biggest meal of the day at dinnertime but for Alzheimer’s patients, that may not be the best approach. It’s best to feed them the biggest meal at the time of day they are hungriest. That could be lunch or breakfast, not just the evening hours.
Offer Variety to Make It Interesting
Sometimes it’s a matter of boredom or lack of interest in the food/meals you are serving. Try introducing new flavors and even bright colors on their dish to capture their interest.
What To Do About Chewing and Swallowing Problems?
For patients who have a chewing/swallowing issue and they often end up choking while eating, it may be time to consider some changes to their diet. If it is just a mild issue with chewing and swallowing, try serving much smaller bites and washing each one down with a sip of a drink. For moderate to severe issues, that’s when you need more impactful changes.
Dysphagia is the proper term for someone with a swallowing problem, and this can happen in those with Alzheimer’s disease. If they start choking while eating, it can lead to the aspiration of liquid and/or food into their lungs. This can be life-threatening as it can cause an infection.All meals should be carefully planned and prepared. It may be necessary to use a thickening liquid so that the food is the exact right consistency to travel down the throat safely. You can look into products like SimplyThick.
Mealtime Shouldn’t Be Stressful
Many tips can be used to make mealtime less stressful for your Alzheimer’s patients and you, ensuring they get all the nutrients they need safely and healthily.