Nov 18, 2013

3 Ways to Get an Alzheimer's Patient to Eat More Food

As Alzheimer's or dementia progresses getting a patient to eat a nutritious meal, or to eat enough, can become a problem.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Last week I spoke at an Alzheimer's conference in New York. I was asked several times,

"How can I get my mother to eat more food? Or, she just won't eat what can I do".

When I started answering at the conference, the entire audience of over 200 people seemed shocked and surprised at my number one suggestion (see below).

This told me that we need to work harder on getting families into support groups and discussing the most common problems we face in the Alzheimers dementia community.

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As Alzheimer's or dementia progresses getting a patient to eat a nutritious meal, or to eat enough, can become a problem.

This can cause the Alzheimer's caregiver to become frustrated, confused, and even angry. It can also bring on feelings of sadness and hopelessness.

1. The First Question I Always Ask is - What Color are Your Plates?

In a study conducted at Boston University researchers found that patients eating from red plates consumed 25 percent more food than those eating from white plates.

Go here to learn more.

Before you go, let me ask you this simple question? Are you sure an Alzheimer's patient can see the food on the plate? Meaning, see it is a way that you and I do, and then eat it.

2. Make eye contact while eating.

Sit directly in front of your loved one living with dementia and make eye contact while eating.

Smile and wait for them to smile back at you.

Then start eating without talking (you start eating). Keep quiet.

Be patient, very very patient, keep making eye contact, and wait for them to follow your lead.

Be patient are the key words here. You might have to do this for a while before it starts working. Remember, you are trying to break a bad pattern and replace with a good pattern.

3. Did I Say Keep Your Mouth Shut?

Trying to convince a person living with Alzheimer's, if they are at the point of not eating, that they must eat is conterproductive to your effort.

Trying to explain why they need to eat is counter productive.

The proper mind set here is learning to be a guide. A good guide makes eye contact and smiles.

A good guide demonstrates how to eat each and every time (like it is the first time, every time). The good guide does this with a smile on their face.

One thing you will need to consider is if the person living with dementia is unable to eat -- they might find it difficult, painful, or impossible to swallow. You should discuss this issue with a qualified specialist. Specialist means a person or doctor that actually deals with this problem - all the time.

Hopefully, by guiding rather than cajoling you might get a patient to eat just enough.

I have a longer article with more suggestions here - How to Get an Alzheimer's Patient to Eat More Food.

I'll also suggest this article - How to Listen to an Alzheimer's Patient.

Those readers with experience or insight, please use the comments box below to share with other readers.


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+Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room (ARR). Bob is a recognized expert, writer, speaker, and influencer in the Alzheimer's and Dementia Community worldwide. The ARR Knowledge Base contains more than 4,900 articles. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.
You are reading original content Bob DeMarco, the +Alzheimer's Reading Room