Something as routine and simple as eating can become difficult and frustrating for individuals with dementia and their caregivers. Proper nutrition is important in order to keep the body strong and healthy.
There are several factors to consider when one is struggling with eating. However, there are also possible solutions to these issues. Some things to consider are physical difficulties such as sores in the mouth, gum disease, or dry mouth. Diseases such as cardiac problems or diabetes may lead to loss of appetite. Agitation and distracted can also be an issue. If the person is upset they may not want to eat or won’t sit long enough to eat an entire meal.
The person’s environment can also have an effect on them if they are outdoors or in a place where there are loud noises that can be distracting. Lastly, it is caregivers might want to consider the quality of the food. If the meal is not appealing, the person may struggle finishing all of their food.
Some helpful tips for eating are to make meal times comfortable by serving meals in quiet settings, keeping the meals simple, only using the utensils necessary, and serving only one or two foods at a time. It may also be helpful to encourage independence. You can do this by making sure the food is not too hot or cold for the person to eat and being patient and not urging the person to eat faster. Caregivers can also try giving the person the chance to eat with other family members and using memory aids to remind the person about meal times.
For more information regarding eating, contact the Alzheimer’s Association at 1.800.272.3900 or visit alz.org/Dayton.