The importance of mealtime for those living with Alzheimer’s

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Mar 12, 2020

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For those living with Alzheimers disease it is important to understand the dietary needs and mealtime changes that need to occur to ensure a safer, more enjoyable quality of life. Mealtime means more than a balanced diet, as it is a key component of daily living providing a routine and socialization.



For someone newly diagnosed with Alzheimers disease and in the early stages, mealtime is a good time for socialization, with slight modifications. For example, rather than having a dinner party at a busy restaurant with 12 people, an intimate gathering of 4 6 at someones home would be more enjoyable. This would also be a good time to start a mealtime routine. Evening time can become a time of anxiety and aggression in those living with Alzheimers. Late meals can add to this and act as a trigger for unpleasant behaviors, so it is recommended that the largest meal of the day be midday. Evening time should consist of a light snack, making it easier to sleep through the night.
As the disease progresses to the moderate stage, it is necessary to increase taste, texture and color of the meals. Bright colors from fruit and vegetables add interest to the plate, and smoother textures can ease swallowing. Eating in small groups consistently will provide comfort and familiarity and having a constant dinner partner can also be beneficial.
In the late stages of the disease, it is important to focus on the texture of the food, for ease of swallowing. As it become harder for those with Alzheimers to control their tongue and muscles used for eating, a smoother texture is needed throughout the diet. Of course, during this time, nutrition is just as important. Often times, supplements or shakes are needed to ensure the right nutrition is being consumed. Additional care and assistance during mealtime is needed.
When choosing a community look for one that offers an onsite chef, who understands the needs of those living with Alzheimers and have the meal plans reviewed by a registered dietician, to ensure that menus are nutritious and well balanced.
Editorial Note: This article was submitted by The Cottages at Chapel Creek. The Cottages has been operating in Texas since 1997 and is family owned and operated by The Cottages Senior Living. They may be reached at 972-464-2757.

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