When your senior parent has Alzheimer’s and is aging in place, one of the biggest challenges can be making sure that they are getting enough to eat. Often as the Alzheimer’s progresses and seniors lose more of their cognition, they are unable to recognize their body’s hunger and thirst cues. They also may be unable to hold utensils, use a cup, or understand what the food on their plate is. As a result, they become malnourished because they aren’t getting enough to eat. Personal care at home can help your senior loved one feed themselves and get enough to drink by helping them use utensils and hold onto a cup so they can drink.
Creating a mealtime routine can help seniors to know when it’s time to eat. Since many seniors don’t recognize when they are hungry having a mealtime routine that includes things like washing their hands and sitting down at the table provides clues to seniors that it’s time to eat. That can be enough to kick start their appetite and get them ready to eat a meal. It’s important that the routine be consistent though, so it’s a good idea to have personal care at home for your senior parent. That way the routine is the same every day.
Having mealtime is important too, because that also creates a routine that a senior with Alzheimer’s can depend on. Even if they don’t feel hungry, they will know it’s time to eat at certain times of the day. But just like with the mealtime routine, the times of the day when seniors eat must be consistent. That means if your senior loved one is a at a medical appointment or something during the time when they usually eat, you will need to have a snack for them so they are eating something at that time.
It’s important to try and pack as many calories into a meal for a senior with Alzheimer’s as possible so that they are getting as much nutrition and calories as they can at that meal. Adding in extra ingredients or increasing the amounts of things like butter or sauces are great ways to do this. For example, if your senior parent like oatmeal in the morning make it whole milk instead of water or put butter and jam on their toast. Even heavy creamer in their morning coffee is a good addition.
When seniors have personal care at home, they get the one-on-one attention that is important for their safety. Seniors with advanced Alzheimer’s may choke on food as they’re to eat it, or choke on whatever they are drinking and aspirate some of it into their lungs. With someone who can devote all their attention to making sure that they are able to eat safely seniors will be able to eat safely.