Mealtimes are an important time where families connect and enjoy each other as they share the events of the day. Research shows that these moments have a profound impact, especially on children. Individuals receiving home care RI may particularly benefit from the togetherness. For patients with Alzheimer’s disease the pleasure of mealtimes can be diminished as changes in the brain create problems with eating. These problems can create stress for both the person suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and their caregiver.
Affects of Alzheimer’s on Eating
Alzheimer’s disease affects more than just memory. It can also impact sensory abilities. A person with the disease may not realize they are hungry or full. Even when their stomach is empty they may decline food, or vice versa. Taste and smell are other senses that may not be functioning properly, both of which are an important part of the eating experience. Without being able to smell or taste the food, a loved one will not find it appetizing and may lose interest in eating.
Other challenges may be confusion about how to use utensils the right way, the appropriate amount of food to eat, forgetting to chew without swallowing, mistaking non-food items for something edible, and many others. Misunderstandings like these and diminished appetite can lead to malnutrition and dehydration. Serious medical problems can result for not eating nutritious foods and a lack of hydration, as well as increased confusion and changes in behavior.
Tips for Good Eating Practices
To counteract the disinterest in eating or confusion about food, there are some things you can do to create a positive eating environment. Following these tips may help to lessen some of the stress surrounding dinner time. Remember, each person is different and may respond better to some techniques than others. Alzheimer’s patients also require patience, monitoring, and flexibility from the caregiver.
Once you find your stride and learn your loved ones likes, dislikes, and habits, mealtime will go much smoother. Be understanding of what the person is going through and try to maintain a cheerful attitude.
MAS Home Care of Rhode Island specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care. Call 866-404-8325 for a free in-home assessment.