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How to Encourage Older Adults with Alzheimer’s to Follow a Healthy Diet

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Many seniors with Alzheimer’s lose interest in food. This may be caused by several factors, ranging from changes in sensory perception to memory loss and it can make it difficult for caregivers to convince their senior loved ones to follow a healthy diet. Here are a few tactics you can use to encourage your loved one to eat healthier. 

The Link Between Alzheimer’s and Appetite

Before you can convince your loved one to eat healthy, you need to understand why his or her appetite for healthy regular meals has diminished. Sometimes, lack of appetite is due to sensory issues like lack of smell, reduced taste, and poor vision. The medications seniors with Alzheimer’s use can also affect appetite and digestive health, which can impact the willingness to eat. If your loved one wears dentures, discomfort may make eating difficult. Seniors with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty expressing why they don’t want to eat.

Motivating the elderly to consume healthier meals can be difficult, especially if they have a loss of appetite. If you are the primary caregiver for a senior family member and you need respite care, Palm Desert, CA, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Our respite caregivers are trained to assist older adults with a wide variety of everyday tasks, including meal prep, physical activity, and personal hygiene. We also provide 24-hour care and specialized care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s.

Use Bright Colored Foods and Utensils

Sometimes, seniors with Alzheimer’s don’t eat because they can’t see the food. Studies show that people with Alzheimer’s eat a larger percentage of their food when it’s placed on a red plate instead of a white one. To boost your loved one’s nutritional intake, use vibrant colors at mealtime. Place meals on brightly colored plates and opt for colorful foods that are easy to see. Your loved one may have a difficult time perceiving white rice or mashed potatoes but have an easier time distinguishing orange carrots arranged on a bright blue plate. You should also minimize visual distractions. Make sure the table is uncluttered and the table settings are simple. 

Remove Distractions

When you have worked hard to make a healthy meal for your loved one, it may be frustrating when he or she gets distracted halfway through dinner. To ensure your loved one finishes the meal, take away all unnecessary distractions. Don’t turn on the television or try to multitask at the dinner table. Eat with your loved one if possible. The camaraderie may motivate him or her to eat. 

If your busy schedule can’t accommodate mealtimes with your elderly loved one, consider hiring a professional caregiver. In Palm Desert, home care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Serve One Dish at a Time

To ensure your loved one gets adequate nutrition, meals should consist of several components. For example, a grilled chicken breast, a dollop of mashed sweet potatoes, and a side of green beans provides the protein and vitamins seniors need. However, if you put all of these foods on the plate at once it may be visually confusing. To mitigate confusion, serve one dish at a time. 

Maintain Patience

Give your loved one all the time he or she needs to chew and swallow the food. If your loved one feels rushed or hurried, he or she might shut down and lose interest in the food. Be patient with regards to food preferences. While seniors need to eat food filled with nutrients, you’ll have more success if you tailor healthy meals to your loved one’s likes and dislikes.

Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Palm Desert Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. To hire a professionally trained caregiver, give us a call at (760) 345-0001.