They often refer to caring for someone with dementia as “the long, sad goodbye.” The reason being is that you are slowly losing pieces of your loved one as the disease progresses. It can be a very challenging experience and one that can take a lot out of you the caregivers. Here are a few tips to help you manage your grief while saying goodbye.
When your loved one starts showing signs of Alzheimer’s Disease, normal routines start to become difficult to handle. One of those challenges is the process of eating. People with dementia may get overwhelmed by the number of food choices or the intimidating looks of utensils. To make dinner-time go smoothly, consider the options to utilize safer eating habits.
Setting the Table Made Easy
Once individuals hit the moderate or late stages of dementia, stimulating environments can cause them to become overwhelmed. To help stall this reaction during meals, consider limiting the amount of distractions in the room; move meals to a quiet area with no television or radio on; have only a place mat, plate, and utensils present at the table to focus on food in front of them. If possible, have the dish and mat be contrasting colors so that your loved one can easily distinguish between the two.
Preventing Choking Hazards
As the diseases progresses, individuals will have a harder chewing and swallowing their food. To help prevent any accidents, let your loved one take their time eating and process their meal. If needed, cut up their food into bite-sized portions to help with chewing. If thin liquids are an issue, mix in a thickening starch or unflavored gelatin for easier swallowing.
There isn’t any special diet required for Alzheimer’s Disease. Like anyone else, your loved one just needs nutritious meals to sustain his/her appetite.
Examples of nutrient rich foods are:
- Dark Colored Vegetables (Spinach, Cucumber, Bell peppers)
- Dark Skinned Fruits (Blueberries, blackberries, plums)
If you are looking for some guidance for dietary needs, studies recommend the MIND Diet (Mediterranean-DASH Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay). Loosely based off the Mediterranean Diet, The MIND Diet focuses on the foods that specifically target brain health. Leafy greens make up a huge portion of the diet, while meats and dairy meant to be eaten in moderation (except for healthy fish, like salmon). Studies have found that these foods not only help lower the risk of dementia but can also help slow the progression of cognitive decline.
Meal preparation may take a significant amount of time during the day, but it’s worth it, knowing that your loved one will be receiving the maximum amount of nutrients that he/she needs.