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29 Nov 2016

Making Mealtimes Easier For Dementia Patients

Making Mealtimes Easier For Dementia Patients

For residents suffering from dementia, mealtimes can be somewhat difficult. This is because some of the symptoms of dementia can impact the relationship that the sufferer has with food. That’s one of the reasons why it’s so important to ensure that any residents suffering from Alzheimer's Disease, or another form of dementia, have good mealtime experiences. Another reason that it’s crucial to ensure that dementia sufferers have good mealtime experiences is because if they don’t eat enough, then it can impact their health.

For people with dementia, eating a healthy, balanced diet can significantly improve their quality of life. Failing to eat enough can cause weight loss, fatigue, higher risk of infection, and a loss of muscle strength, among other problems. As well as ensuring that dementia patients are eating properly, it’s also important to ensure that they’re drinking enough. Often, as dementia progresses, sufferers aren’t able to recognise the fact that they’re thirsty. If they don’t drink enough at mealtimes, as well as throughout the day, this can cause them to become dehydrated, leading to headaches, urinary tract infections, and constipation. 

As dementia progresses, some sufferers may require build up milkshakes to keep them healthy. However, until this point, there are plenty of ways that you can ensure that your residents are eating and drinking enough.

Turning down food

It’s fairly common for dementia patients not to be keen on the idea of eating. There are a range of reasons for this, from not liking the food that they’ve been given and being unable to communicate that to their carer to not recognising hunger. Each dementia sufferer is different and it’s important to remember that.

Encouraging them to eat

When it comes to encouraging a dementia sufferer to eat, there are lots of options for doing so. It’s just a case of determining what the best method is for each person.

Some ideas to try include making foods look more appealing by serving smaller meals. Finger foods often seem to be successful with dementia sufferers, as they’re easier to eat than larger meals. It’s also important to ensure that the dementia sufferer is served food that they like. It’s a good idea to try out different foods to see what works best. For instance, while some residents will prefer savory foods others will prefer sweet foods. It doesn’t matter what they eat as long as it’s nutritious and filling. 

Making mealtimes easier

To make the process of eating itself easier, there are some fantastic mealtime aids on offer. These can help to make it easier for dementia patients to enjoy mealtimes and not spill their food or drink down themselves.

Some forms of dementia cause sufferers’ hands to shake, causing them to be more prone when it comes to dropping things. This can also make spilling drinks more likely. To prevent drinks from being spilt, there is a range of easy-to-use cups complete with lids available. These can give dementia sufferers a little independence, allowing them to hold their own drink.

There are also scoop plates that can allow dementia sufferers to feed themselves, as these plates make it easier for them to glide food onto their cutlery. A lot of dementia sufferers prefer to feed themselves, so these types of plates can be highly useful.  

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