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Can Dementia Affect How a Senior Eats & Drinks?

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Dementia impacts a senior or older adult’s ability to perform simple daily tasks, including the activities of eating and drinking. To help ensure that family caregivers are able to promote optimal health for their loved ones, Home Care Assistance of North Houston presents some of the most common ways dementia can impact eating and drinking, and what caregivers can do to help their loved one overcome the issue.

Issue 1: Skipping Meals Out of Forgetfulness

In the early stages of the disease, your loved one may simply forget to eat. One of the best ways to combat this is to create a regular routine that your loved one can easily follow. Your loved one does not have to do the same activities at the same exact time everyday, however the order of the activities should remain the same. For instance, if your loved one always showers, gets dressed and has breakfast, he or she should always perform these activities in this order. This can help your loved one identify when meal times are within their regular schedule of activities.

Issue 2: Experiencing Anxiety at Meal Time

One common side effect of dementia is fear or anxiety that makes daily activities seem difficult or even frightening. Help limit your loved one’s options at meal time and try to make the meal as simple as possible, and do not crowd the plate with many different types of foods. Some dementia care specialists even recommend serving one item at a time to reduce anxiety and confusion. Meals should also be served in an environment with few distractions. Any background noise, such as noise from a television or radio, may distract your loved one from eating.

Issue 3: Declining Motor Skills

Seniors with dementia may have trouble performing activities that use fine motor skills, making it difficult to safely use a knife and fork or drink from a glass. This may cause your loved one to feel embarrassed or even frustrated, and may result in them shying away from eating. When this is the case, try to serve finger foods in smaller bites that are easy to pick up and chew independently. Allowing them to feed themselves for as long as possible can help to boost feelings of self-esteem and confidence.

Issue 4: The Inability to Recognize Food

In the later stages of the disease, your loved one may unfortunately lose the ability to recognize food. As a result, you may have to help feed them. When feeding a senior with dementia, make sure they are sitting upright in bed or in a chair, and use smaller bites and blended foods to reduce the risk of choking. Because your loved one will likely require around-the-clock monitoring and assistance with other personal care activities, many families look to live-in care in North Houston to help manage care responsibilities.

Interested in learning more about home care for a senior parent or loved one with dementia? Schedule a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with Home Care Assistance of North Houston. Our highly trained and compassionate dementia caregivers provide hourly and live-in dementia care in North Houston and are available twenty four hours a day, seven days a week. Call us at 832-412-1345 and schedule your in-home consultation with a friendly Care Manager today.