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How to Convince Older Adults with Alzheimer’s to Eat

Good nutrition is important, especially during the golden years. However, Alzheimer’s can create a host of challenges and make it difficult for caregivers to encourage healthy eating habits. Lancaster home care experts suggest a few simple strategies to make mealtime easier and more appealing for seniors living with Alzheimer’s disease.

Be Mindful of Alzheimer’s-Related Challenges

Although your loved one’s refusal to eat can be both worrisome and frustrating, you have to remember this is not a conscious decision. Seniors with Alzheimer’s often forget to eat and are easily distracted and overwhelmed. Even using simple dining utensils can become confusing. As such, you can start preparing and serving foods much like you would for a toddler, with an emphasis on simplicity, ease, and healthy choices.

Choose a Bright-Colored Plate

The color of your senior loved one’s meal plate may be important in how receptive he or she is to food. Alzheimer’s creates spatial and vision problems that make white objects difficult to pick up on, especially when they’re served on white plates. However, bright, red plates have been shown to encourage better eating among aging adults with Alzheimer’s. Seeing mashed potatoes, cauliflower, and even eggs cooked over-medium or over-hard may be difficult for your loved one if they aren’t served on a surface of contrasting color.

Offer Finger Foods When Possible

When using utensils becomes problematic, simplify your loved one’s meal plan to include as many finger foods as possible. Try serving eggs in between toast instead of serving these two things separately and with a fork. Chicken nuggets, fish sticks, and other easy to handle foods may prove far less challenging than large bowls of soup or oatmeal.

Cut Meat into Small Pieces

Cut your loved one’s food before serving it and make sure to only hand out small, manageable portions. Be mindful of the fact that too many colors and too many options can be confusing. If your aging relative wants more, have a small amount of ready-cut meat nearby.

Set the Right Tone for Meals

Keep mealtime consistent and try to set the right tone for these occasions. Limit noise distractions by turning off the television or radio. Speak positively about the food and your loved one’s ability to eat and enjoy it. Make eye contact and limit conversation as soon as your senior loved one sits down so your family members can focus on the task at hand.

Hiring professional in-home Alzheimer’s care in Lancaster for your senior loved one can go a long way in helping him or her live a happier and healthier life. Home Care Assistance has trained caregivers who not only prepare healthy meals for seniors with Alzheimer’s, but also help stimulate their appetite. Get in touch with one of our Care Managers today at (717) 540-4663 to learn more about our premier Alzheimer’s care services.