Diet is important for seniors with Alzheimer’s, since proper nutrition may offset neurological changes going on in the brain. However, meeting nutritional requirements is sometimes challenging for older adults who have cognitive decline coupled with other age-related issues. Here’s what to keep in mind as you put together a meal plan for an aging loved one with Alzheimer’s.
Balance Plates with Colorful, Healthy Foods
Aging adults with Alzheimer’s tend to respond positively to a mix of vibrant and diverse colors. Luckily, there are many nutritious and colorful foods you can put on your loved one’s plate to encourage him or her to eat healthy. Possibilities include:
• Pink and red beets
• Yellow and orange squash
• Green beans, artichokes, asparagus, and avocados
• Blue and purple berries
• White potatoes, parsnips, and mushrooms
• Pink salmon topped with yellow lemon slices
• A colorful salad made with vibrant veggies, creamy feta cheese, garbanzo beans, and Greek dressing
Offer a Variety of Flavors
Dementia-related conditions such as Alzheimer’s can affect the taste buds, and seniors may not respond well to the same flavors they’ve always liked. What you can do is mix things up with a variety of flavors that are also healthy. Fortunately, there are many flavor-packed options with:
• Fruits and veggies
• Whole grains
• Low-fat dairy products
• Lean proteins
Note: Cut down on the extras like salt and butter so your loved one can savor the natural flavor of the food. Plus, a lot of these “extras” aren’t all that healthy.
Aging adults who need help managing mental and physical health issues can benefit from the assistance of highly trained professional caregivers. Seniors who want to remain healthy as they age can benefit in a variety of ways when they receive professional at-home care. Naples, FL, Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one accomplish daily tasks, prevent illness, and focus on living a healthier and more fulfilling life.
Go Light on Fats
Butter, shortening, lard, and fatty cuts of meat are among the “bad” fats your loved one should avoid. However, some healthy fats provide nutrients that are beneficial for both the body and the brain. Some of these include:
• Fatty fish
• Certain cheeses
• Unsalted nuts
• Dark chocolate
Opt for Healthy Snacks
In the later stages of the disease, your loved one may forget he or she has already had a meal and insist on eating something. If this happens, avoid refined sugars and other “empty calorie” snack options. Instead, choose healthy snacks that can tide your loved one over until it’s time for the next full meal.
Some seniors with Alzheimer’s also become picky about their food because of changes in taste perception. If this is the case, snacks with a bit of sweetness may encourage your loved one to eat. Healthy snacks that offer some flavor and even a touch of sweetness include:
• Fruit or juice-sweetened baked goods
• Baked apple chips lightly sprinkled with cinnamon
• Greek yogurt paired with fresh peach slices or berries
• Frozen grapes sprinkled with a bit of flavored gelatin mix
There are many reasons seniors might need assistance at home. Some may require regular mental stimulation due to an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, while others might only need part-time assistance with exercise and basic household tasks. Home Care Assistance is a leading elder care provider. Families rely on our expertly trained caregivers to help their senior loved ones maintain a high quality of life.
Make Mealtimes Simple and Enjoyable
Now that you have a better idea of what foods to include in your loved one’s meals, let’s talk a little bit about mealtimes themselves. Seniors with Alzheimer’s tend to get distracted easily, especially during the middle and later stages of the disease. There are also other behavioral and cognitive issues that could make mealtimes challenging. However, you can still make your loved one’s mealtimes as enjoyable as possible by:
• Limiting distractions
• Keeping the table setting simple with only necessary items
• Using plates that are white or another basic color to minimize confusion
• Serving items in stages so you’re not overwhelming your loved one
• Eating together so you can offer companionship along with friendly reminders to chew and swallow and other assistance that may be needed
Without the right assistance, Alzheimer’s can be challenging for seniors and their families to manage. If you’re looking for professional Alzheimer’s care, Naples Home Care Assistance provides high-quality care aging adults and their families can count on. All of our hourly and live-in caregivers are trained to help seniors with Alzheimer’s live happier and healthier lives, and we also provide specialized dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care. If your loved one needs professional care, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Call one of our dedicated Care Managers today at (239) 449-4701 to learn about the high quality of our in-home Alzheimer’s care services.