As people age, their food preferences may change and their appetites may diminish. Many aging adults with Alzheimer’s lose interest in eating, but the failure to eat regularly can put seniors at risk for severe weight loss and nutritional deficiencies. Here are some interventions that may motivate a senior loved one with Alzheimer’s to eat.
1. Remove Distractions
Seniors with Alzheimer’s can get easily distracted. When this happens, they may be unable to focus on eating. Turn off the television and temporarily relocate pets to another room until mealtime is over. Once distractions are removed, your loved one may be more interested in eating.
2. Present Attractive Meals
Since seniors with Alzheimer’s may need more encouragement to eat, you’ll need to make meals as attractive as possible for your loved one. When the food looks good, your loved one is more likely to eat it. Colorful fruits and vegetables—such as bell peppers, carrots, apples, tomatoes, pineapple, and kiwifruit—are both visually stimulating and full of nutrients. Different food textures and shapes can also enhance the attractiveness of dishes, prompting more interest in eating.
A trained Alzheimer’s caregiver can provide expertise and additional support to encourage your loved one to eat. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of at-home care. Oshkosh families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
3. Make Pleasant-Smelling Meals
Aromatic seasonings, spices, and other ingredients can stimulate the appetite and spark an interest in eating. Foods such as freshly baked biscuits, muffins, roasted turkey, chicken soup, and meatloaf may spark pleasant thoughts and memories while stimulating the appetite. Chocolate chip cookies, brownies, and apple pie are other foods that may appeal to seniors with Alzheimer’s.
4. Ask for Help
Inviting your loved one to participate in meal preparation is another way to get him or her interested in eating. Elderly people, even those with Alzheimer’s disease or other types of dementia, take pride in their accomplishments. When your loved one feels good about a dish he or she has helped you prepare, he or she may be more likely to eat. Make sure you supervise your loved one when he or she is handling sharp utensils or working near the stove.
Helping an aging loved one get proper nutrition when he or she doesn’t want to eat can be exhausting. If you’re the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality senior home care, Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age.
5. Invite Companions to Share Meals
Inviting close friends or family members over to dine may also encourage a senior with Alzheimer’s to eat. Many people with Alzheimer’s enjoy social situations and like to be included in group activities. The social stimulation and time spent with familiar people can enhance your loved one’s mood, and when his or her mood is brighter, your parent’s interest in eating may be stronger.
6. Address Grasping Issues
If your loved one has lost the ability to grasp standard eating utensils, he or she may be uninterested in eating. While you could feed your loved one, promoting as much independence as possible is always preferable. Offer utensils with thicker handles that are bulkier and easier to grasp. Once your loved one is able to hold a utensil without dropping it, he or she may be more likely to eat.
Professional caregivers with specialized experience in Alzheimer’s care can be a wonderful source of support for older adults with the disease. Without the right assistance, Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors and their families to manage. If you’re looking for professional Alzheimer’s care, Oshkosh Home Care Assistance provides high-quality care aging adults and their families can count on. All of our hourly and live-in caregivers are trained to help seniors with Alzheimer’s live happier and healthier lives, and we also provide specialized dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. To create a customized home care plan for your loved one, call Home Care Assistance at (920) 573-6295 today.