Many different communication abnormalities occur in the brains of seniors living with dementia, causing a variety of unusual thought processes and behaviors. Dementia-associated symptoms also commonly affect appetite and dietary habits. Family members should consider the following methods to ensure their aging loved ones receive adequate nutrition despite their cognitive impairment.
Ensure a Balanced Diet
Offer a variety of heart-healthy foods that are low in fat and salt. Choose your loved one’s favorite fruits and vegetables along with low-fat or fat-free dairy products and lean meats. Seniors with dementia often prefer sweet foods. However, sugar causes inflammation, which causes brain cells to deteriorate even further. Try sweetening foods with fruit or honey instead.
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. Lincoln 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.
Address Appetite Loss
Older adults afflicted with dementia may exhibit a loss of appetite. They might no longer recognize meals or specific foods they once enjoyed. Encourage your loved one to taste a meal as if eating the dish for the first time. Resist the urge to argue, as seniors with dementia don’t have the ability to think rationally at times.
Take Steps to Alleviate Physical Pain
Perhaps there’s a physical reason your loved one chooses not to eat. However, your parent may not know how to express the discomfort. Determine if the issue is secondary to ill-fitting dentures or a toothache. Maybe your loved one has a canker sore that causes discomfort when eating warm foods. Discover the issue and address it. Some seniors with dementia may experience a loss of smell or taste. Try adding more flavor to foods to increase their appeal.
Encourage Regular Exercise
When seniors don’t get enough physical activity, their bodies don’t require the same number of calories. Thus, they may not feel hungry. Encourage your loved one to go for a walk or exercise for a few minutes throughout the day.
Older adults who need help exercising should consider professional in-home care. Elderly home care professionals can be a wonderful boon to seniors. Whether they require around-the-clock supervision or just need assistance with exercise and household tasks a few days a week, seniors can enjoy a higher quality of life with the help of trusted in-home caregivers.
Consider the Effects of Hypothalamus Malfunction
The hypothalamus sends signals that enable people to feel hungry or full. When the processes that cause dementia affect this region of the brain, older adults don’t have these sensations. They might mistakenly believe they’ve already eaten. Casually offer small healthy meals, and serve foods on smaller plates to prevent your loved one from feeling overwhelmed. Sit down to eat with your loved one, and start a conversation. Throughout the day, present small meals and snacks featuring your parent’s favorite foods. Eliminate distractions from TVs or radios, and make the atmosphere as pleasant as possible.
Simplify the Eating Process
At some point, seniors with dementia may need to be manually fed. As the disease progresses, they may no longer remember how to feed themselves. Offer your parent one food at a time, and don’t force a larger amount of food than he or she is capable of eating. Ensure your parent thoroughly chews and swallows the food before offering another bite. If your loved one exhibits difficulty swallowing, soften or puree foods to make eating safer.
Dementia is a major health issue among the elderly. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of senior care Lincoln, CA, families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Call us at (916) 226-3737 today to talk to one of our compassionate Care Managers about our high-quality home care services.