Nov 24, 2014

Thanksgiving If You Couldn't See Your Mashed Potatoes, You Probably Wouldn’t Eat Them

One of the most frequent comments after Thanksgiving has to do with eating. Many caregivers note that the person living with dementia won't eat, or won't eat much. This of course is very disconcerting.

Happy Thanksgiving

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

I believe in the Bunkhouse Logic approach to Alzheimer's caregiving. So when I have a problem I always try to think about all the variables, and all the potential solutions to the problem.

There can be several reasons why a person living with dementia won't eat. Right now, let's stick with what might be a perceptual problem with the food on the plate.

By this I mean, the person living with Alzheimer's doesn't see the food the way we do, doesn't like the way the food looks, or just plain can't see the food.

We have two very good articles on the issue of perception and eating.

The first, Alzheimer's, Red Plates, Mirrors, and You, talks about the use of red plates and then delves into some other issues.

Interestingly, on the Dr OZ show I heard a nutritionist say that you shouldn't eat off red plates because you will eat more. This really caught my attention.


Because 40 percent of Alzheimer's patients don't eat enough. 

That is right, 40 percent. The numbers make it easy to understand that eating and Alzheimer's are a big problem. And, this should tell you you are not alone when you have this problem. Bunkhouse logic, if red plates make you eat too much, maybe they will make you eat more.

Max Wallack's article, What Color is Your Plate?, really gets into the issue and leads to specific research on the issue of eating and dementia patients.

From time to time I have had the problem of Dotty not eating, or not eating enough. This happens when she is not feeling well. A simple question for you, when you are ill do you lose your appetite sometimes? You will probably answer Yes.

I believe in the Bunkhouse Logic approach to Alzheimer's caregiving. So when I have a problem I always try to think about all the variables, and all the potential solutions to the problem.

My advice here, make sure you loved one is not in some way sick. First thing, take their temperature. Please remember, most elderly people have a core body temperature well below 98.6. In Dotty's case her core body temperature is around 97.6. So, if Dotty's temperature is 98.6, she is sick. Dotty never tells me she is sick. I have to pay attention. Rule in, rule out all the potential causes of a problem I am having with her.

I would suggest if you are experiencing an eating problem with your loved one you read the articles about red plates and consider trying the approach. You might even start with a red paper plates immediately. Keep this in mind,

If you couldn’t see your mashed potatoes, you probably wouldn’t eat them.

Using red plates might help you to get your loved one to eat more simply because they can see the food better, or maybe, just maybe, it will look more appetising to them on a red plate.

Don't forget to touch all the bases when investigating an eating disorder. There might be a solution. Not feeling well, perception, the amount of food on the plate (too much), plate too big.

Who knows?

It is worth the effort to try. Be a detective. Go into the Bunkhouse.

If you try, please let us know how you are doing.

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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.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room