One of the most common problems faced by dementia patients is a lack of appetite. They eat very less than they used to, a few years or sometime back. This lack of eating is triggered by medical reasons that cause irritation while swallowing, digesting, and chewing. As a result, dementia patients simply lose their interest in every type of food.
With the progression of this disease, this issue gets worse. At the later stages of dementia, the patient will almost stop eating if you cannot come up with valuable solutions. Thus eating problems have become a real concern for people dealing with dementia patients. To help you out, here is a list of practical tips which will help dementia patients to eat more nutritious meals.
Best tips to improve the eating habits of dementia patients
1. Use colorful plates
Dementia patients fail to distinguish between two colors, so when you serve them rice on a white plate, they fail to see the food most of the time. Serving the food on a white plate should always be avoided.
Research says using red plates increases their eating capacity by 30%. When the color of food served is clearly different from the plate’s color, their interest in consuming food increases.
2. Offer simple food items.
After a stage, a dementia patient will face difficulties while eating regular food from normal utensils. You need to make eating easy for them. Use small, bite-sized portions of food in each meal and make sure to identify the food very easily.
Fruits like bananas, grapes, strawberries can be given to the patient because they are vibrant in color. You can also give them nuts, vegetable crisps, small chicken pieces, fish fingers, and so on. Keep the environment stress-free and provide them with enough time on the table.
3. Do not talk much
As we all know, there are different types of Dementia. People suffering from Alzheimer’s cannot focus easily as they get distracted very easily. So, if you are expecting them to listen to you and eat simultaneously, this is not going to happen.
You have to make eating as easy as possible for them. So, do not talk at the dining table and let them focus on the food. You can make small comments on the food, but you should have long conversations.
4. Follow a good diet
There are plenty of food items that slow down the effects of dementia. You can check the list and include those in the diet of your loved ones. A healthy diet will increase their hunger and keep them fit. Leafy greens are one of the most suggested foods.
These contain Vitamin B9, Vitamin E, fiber which improve cognitive power among adults. You should also include fish, nuts, seeds, cherries, and berries in your diet.
5. Be patient
When dementia patients stop eating, it can be difficult to convince them to eat regular meals, so you must not lose patience. You have to be their food guide by demonstrating how to eat and what to eat. Always keep smiling and maintain eye contact.
Talking can disturb their concentration, so keep quiet. You may get frustrated after seeing no minimum results but never lose your hopes. They will watch you and learn to copy eventually.
6. Arrange meals strategically
Dementia patients can react differently to different types of food. The shape, color, size, and pattern of food matter. So, you need to experiment with food items and check which food works better.
Add different colored food to the meals so that the plate looks vibrant. Moreover, cutting the food into small pieces, offering their favorite food items, and changing the food texture can also trigger their interest in eating meals.
7. Complement the meal
When we see someone enjoying the meal, we also become interested in giving it a try. This is also true for dementia patients. When eating as a family, praise the food for encouraging the patient to try the food. Thus, you can spark interest in dementia patients and encourage them to eat their meals.
These are some of the most useful tips which will help you to deal with the eating problems of a dementia patient. Dementia is already a frustrating disease. If the patient stops eating, things get worse. So, take proper care of the patient and offer them as much comfort as possible. If you follow these tips, your loved one will eat more regularly, so try them out.