An Alzheimer’s patient can experience a variety of eating problems, making it crucial that caregivers craft a diet plan designed to meet the person’s nutritional requirements. Sometimes interest in different types of foods change, and some patients can’t even put together a nourishing meal. If an Alzheimer’s patient has an eating problem, there are a number of strategies that can be used to keep the person in good health.
Over Eating and Alzheimer’s
Some folks suffering from Alzheimer’s eat too much. They might have forgotten when they last ate, or they might have new food cravings that prompts them to snack on sweets. They also might be eating out of boredom created by their illness.
Experts recommend various tactics for dealing with overeating by someone with Alzheimer’s:
• Limit access to sweets by locking treats away or disguising unhealthy snack foods behind plain wrappers.
• Substitute healthy alternatives such as fruits and vegetables or candies containing artificial sweeteners
• Serve nutritious snacks and finger foods throughout the day in small portions
• Plan activities to prevent boredom-related overeating
Under Eating and Alzheimer’s
The appetite decreases as people age because the body needs less calories. However, people with Alzheimer’s can suffer from a more dramatic decrease in appetite. In the early stages, under eating could be prompted by depression. Later, the person might have trouble eating regularly and can’t even remember how to eat.
To help someone with Alzheimer’s get enough to eat, you can:
• Visit a dentist and make sure the person’s eating issues are not related to sore gums or ill-fitting dentures
• Review medications to see if they could be affecting the appetite
• Prepare appetizing foods full of good scents, colors, and flavor, and serve small portions throughout the day
• Limit choices by presenting only one or two foods at a time to reduce confusion
• Prompt the person to eat by taking a bite or two yourself or through some other gentle method
• Stay the course or have someone encourage eating
Other tips to make eating easier on the person with Alzheimer’s:
• Keep it simple. Prepare small foods and finger foods.
• Maintain a schedule and limit noise and other distractions so the person can focus on eating and only eating
• Focus on fluids. Make sure the person drinks liquids throughout the day to avoid dehydration