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4 Ways to Encourage Seniors with Alzheimer’s to Eat More

By Debbie Waddell, 9:00 am on

For seniors with Alzheimer’s disease, eating and other daily activities can become more challenging. Since seniors with this condition frequently experience a diminished appetite, suspicion of prepared dishes, or simply forget to eat, they are more likely than other seniors to not eat enough. To help ensure that your loved one with Alzheimer’s is eating enough food, the senior care experts at Home Care Assistance Placer County suggest trying the following four strategies.

1. Eat with Your Loved One
Encourage your elderly relative to eat by providing companionship while eating with him or her. When seniors with Alzheimer’s are anxious, they are less likely to finish their meals, so making conversation about pleasant subjects is typically the easiest way to help reduce seniors’ anxiety. However, be aware: Certain seniors with Alzheimer’s have trouble multi-tasking and will eat less if you chat at the same time. Experiment a bit to see which strategy works best with your relative.

2. Keep Meals Simple
Don’t overwhelm your senior loved one with choices at mealtimes as it creates anxiety and stress. Instead, put only two or three items on the plate at a time. If your loved one has favorite foods, be sure to include one of those preferred items or dishes at each meal to entice him or her. However, avoid serving more than one of those favorite items, as having several options at once may lead to indecision and less eating.

3. Use a Red Plate
Research shows that, for an unknown reason, seniors with dementia or Alzheimer’s will eat about 25 percent more when their food is served on red plates instead of white ones. While 25 percent may not seem like a lot, having a Placer County Alzheimer’s caregiver serve meals on red plates can make a big difference in the amount your loved one eats.

4. Serve Small Meals Throughout the Day
You may not be able to get your relative to eat much at each sitting, so try to serve numerous small meals throughout the day. The total calories and nutrients per day are what counts, so even only serving small snacks during the day can help ensure your loved one gets his or her daily recommended intake. If your loved one is particularly resistant to eating, but is fine with drinking, you may also consider making nutritious shakes for some extra protein and calories.

Expertly trained to provide assistance with a variety of in-home tasks for seniors with memory conditions, the Alzheimer’s or dementia caregivers at Placer County Home Care Assistance can help ensure that your loved one is eating enough and eating well. If your elderly loved one has a cognitive condition that makes living safely and healthily at home a challenge, give a Care Manager a call at 916.226.3737 to ask questions about our senior care services and to schedule a free in-home consultation.

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