Good morning and welcome today’s Wednesday Workshop. Today we are going to talk about how you can encourage eating for someone who doesn’t seem to want to. There are many ways to stimulate appetite and interest in food and drink for those living with memory loss. First, knowing the person, his or her routines, preferences, likes and dislikes, and other needs will lead to more successful caregiving.
Families should communicate this information to paid caregivers as well. Here are some tips on how you might get the person with memory loss to eat:
- The presentation of the food is important. Foods that smell and look good are appealing. Sometimes providing different tastes, colors and smells may stimulate a poor appetite.
- Seizing on opportunities to encourage eating as opposed to being locked into a rigid eating schedule is essential. For example, if the cared for person is awake for much of the night then night-time snacks may be a good idea.
- Providing food that the person likes in small portion is often helpful.
- Trying different types of food, like milk shakes or smoothies (often fortified with protein) may be another way to increase the intake of calories and necessary nutrients.
- Alzheimer’s may impact the way food tastes, so experimenting with stronger flavors or sweet foods may be helpful.
- Food that becomes cold will lose its appeal. If the person is a slow eater, it makes sense to serve only small portions to keep food warm, or to use the microwave to reheat food.
- If the person is having difficulties chewing or swallowing, serving naturally soft food such as scrambled eggs or stewed fruit might help. Avoid pureed food since it is generally not appetizing.
- If pureed food is necessary, speak to a dietician or speech and language therapist to discover strategies to make sure that the food is not only nutritious but continues to taste good.
- Involving the cared for person in the mealtime preparations, perhaps setting the table or stirring the food as it cooks, can often stimulate appetite.
- Providing positive encouragement and gentle reminders to eat may help; although impatient nagging won’t.
- Maintaining a relaxed, friendly atmosphere with some soft music is often helpful.
- Meals should be a time not only for eating and drinking, but also an opportunity for social stimulation.
- And last, providing dessert even if the person does not eat his or her entire meal is recommend. A motto for caregivers should be:” “Who says you can’t eat dessert first”!
If you would like to learn more, please visit our website at www.alzpb.org or call the Alzheimer’s Care Resource Center at (561) 588-4545. Thanks for watching and we will see you again next week.