6 Ways for Dementia Caregivers to Make Mealtimes Easier

By , 9:00 am on

Dementia symptoms involve more than just memory loss. As your senior loved one’s condition progresses, he or she may experience confusion, agitation, and muscle control issues that make it difficult to eat. These feeding tips can help you ensure your loved one gets proper nutrition every day.

1. Establish a Warm and Comforting Mood

The environment and your attitude play a huge role in your loved one’s behavior at mealtimes. Try to plan enough time for meals so your loved one doesn’t feel rushed. You may also choose to emphasize this time as an opportunity to socialize and bond with each other. When your loved one senses you’re enjoying this part of the day, he or she may be more likely to relax and enjoy it with you.

2. Address Underlying Physical Health Issues

At times, dementia caregivers think their loved ones are simply not eating well due to their symptoms. However, there could be other physical issues going on. For instance, poorly fitting dentures could be causing pain while chewing. Be alert for signs of other health issues that affect your loved one’s diet so they’re addressed as soon as possible.

Caring for a loved one with dementia can be extremely challenging, and a compassionate professional caregiver can be a wonderful source of support. If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Green Valley home care agency you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services.

3. Understand Anxiety

Seniors with dementia have varying levels of awareness that affect the ability to eat. For instance, your loved one may worry about choking if he or she sometimes has difficulty chewing food. Your loved one may also worry about how others view his or her eating abilities if he or she is in the milder stages of the disease. Understanding why your loved one refuses to eat or doesn’t want to join you at a restaurant may ease your frustration as a caregiver. 

Difficulty chewing and other eating issues in the advanced stages of dementia can make caring for seniors increasingly challenging. One of the most challenging tasks of helping an elderly relative age in place safely and comfortably is researching agencies that provide elder care. Green Valley families can turn to Home Care Assistance for reliable, high-quality in-home care for aging adults. We offer 24-hour live-in care for seniors who require extensive assistance, and we also offer respite care for family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties.

4. Create Flavorful and Simple Meals

Dementia can cause seniors to suddenly stop loving their favorite foods. They may also experience dulled senses that cause them to enjoy meals less. To make up for these issues, try making meals more flavorful by using herbs for seasoning. You may also find that keeping meals simpler makes it easier for your loved one to identify the food on the plate. For instance, a senior with dementia may turn down stew but happily eat potatoes, meat, and carrots when they’re placed separately on the plate.

5. Use Assistive Tableware and Utensils

Dementia can affect muscle control. Symptoms such as tremors can be an issue if they cause your loved one to drop food or knock over cups. Explore different types of utensils and dishes that are available for seniors with physical and cognitive challenges. Your loved one may find it easier to eat with a fork that’s attached to his or her hand with a strap or with weighted cups that are difficult to spill.

6. Supplement with Healthy Snacks During the Day

It helps to have a backup plan for days when dementia symptoms cause your loved one to eat much less than he or she needs for proper functioning. Have a few healthy snacks on hand that you can use to supplement between mealtimes, such as smoothies or protein shakes.

Even when families have the best intentions, caring for a senior loved one with dementia can be challenging. Fortunately, Home Care Assistance is here to help. We are a leading provider of dementia care. Green Valley families can take advantage of our flexible and customizable care plans, and our caregivers always stay up to date on the latest developments in senior care. Call Home Care Assistance today at 520-625-2050 to learn about our high-quality in-home dementia care services.