Eating healthy during this Holiday season is difficult for all of us. All that delicious food, all of the parties, and in a flash, we can easily have put on 5 to 15 pounds. Wow!
Now just try to imagine what a difficult time an Alzheimer’s patient, who needs a familiar routine and a set diet, has in coping with this whirlwind of food. You’re right, a great amount of difficulty. But, it doesn’t have to be this way.
The National Institute on Aging (NIA) has come out with recommendations for Alzheimer’s caregivers–such as family. Alzheimer’s patients need familiar routines and foods, as change is difficult for them to handle. It helps them to know what to expect and makes them feel more relaxed.
If the caregiver is a home health aide, family members should tell this caregiver about the person’s preferences, and provide the caregiver with the necessary resources.
Eating Healthy: Alzheimer’s And The Holidays
The National Institute on Aging recommends the following guidelines for Alzheimer’s patients during the Holidays:
- Buy healthy foods such as vegetables, fruits, and whole-grain products. Be sure to buy foods that the person likes and can eat.
- Give the person choices about what to eat—for example, “Would you like green beans or salad?”
- Buy food that is easy to prepare, such as premade salads and single food portions.
Safety is also a very important consideration during this time period. For example, the patient may not sit down long enough for meals or refuse to eat. This usually happens in the middle to late stages of the disease. These changes can lead to poor nourishment, dehydration, and low blood pressure.
Eating Healthy: Food Tips For Alzheimer’s Patient
Caregivers should also monitor the person’s weight and eating habits to make sure they’re getting proper nutrition. Be aware of appetite changes, the person’s level of physical activity, and problems with chewing or swallowing.
Mealtimes are an important time and event for the Alzheimer’s patient. The NIA recommends these guidelines:
- View mealtimes as opportunities for social interaction. A warm and happy tone of voice sets the mood.
- Be patient and give the person enough time to finish the meal.
- Respect personal, cultural, and religious food preferences, such as eating tortillas instead of bread or avoiding pork.
- If the person has always eaten meals at specific times, continue to serve meals at those times.
- Serve meals in a consistent, familiar place and way whenever possible.
- Avoid new routines, such as serving breakfast to a person who has never routinely eaten breakfast.