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Published on: November 8, 2013
by The Daily Meal:
It is funny how the words “food” and “comfort” often appear in the same sentence. Many of the milestones in our lives revolve around food, and it’s often used as a platform to make a connection with someone we love. When times are good or bad, there is something cathartic about breaking bread together. And while there are many changes that occur in the life of an Alzheimer’s patient, the need for a good meal never waivers.
What does change about the day-to-day routine is the way a patient and caregiver experience food. Suddenly, favorite foods seem like mysterious dishes, and those with Alzheimer’s often can’t remember what they ate or if they even liked it. But navigating mealtime with an Alzheimer’s patient should be the last thing a caregiver is worried about when the future is already filled with what-ifs.
With the help of the Alzheimer’s Association, we’ve come up with a few tips and tricks for making mealtime an easier experience.
1. Keep It Simple
While it may seem counterintuitive to the decorative homemaker, keeping the table as clear as possible is for the best. If there are too many arrangements, silverware options, food choices, or even too busy of a table cloth, an Alzheimer’s patient can feel easily overwhelmed and too nervous.
2. Make It Familiar
Depending on the stage of the disease the patient is in, caregivers should be ready to experience a wide range of opinions. What a patient once loved to eat may have drastically changed or they may just be interested in eating a staple meal.
3. Check the Temperature
A hot meal is appreciated by anyone, but if the meal is too hot, someone with Alzheimer’s may not be able to discern for themselves if it is actually too hot for consumption. Make sure the food or drink served is at a reasonable temperature.
4. Stand Out
Present food and table settings that stand out. Having things that do not create a distinguishable contrast can make eating very confusing for someone with Alzheimer’s.
5. Take Time
Make sure that you watch them while they eat to ensure that they are chewing and swallowing properly. It is also important not to rush an Alzheimer’s patient and to make sure they feel comfortable to figure out their meal at their own pace.
6. Have Fun
The more social the meals are, the happier patients will be! They will look forward to the experience and will hopefully be surrounded by a few caring faces.
7. Multiple Meals
A person may not remember if they ate. You may want to consider serving “several” breakfasts if the person continues to ask about eating breakfast. Serve the meal piecemeal: juice, followed by toast, followed by cereal, for example.
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