Eating for Someone With Alzheimer's
The ability of a person with Alzheimer's disease to make good food choices, to use utensils correctly, to chew and swallow his food, and to sit at the table changes over the course of the illness. As with other activities of daily living, people with Alzheimer's disease need more and more help as time passes.
At all stages mealtimes should be pleasant and can offer a social opportunity. They are a key time of the day. Allow plenty of time for each meal--a minimum of 30–45 minutes.
In the early stage you may not need to do anything special when preparing food, but may need to help with choosing a healthy diet. People with Alzheimer's can continue to eat without help for quite a while, but eventually they will begin to need help.
In the middle stage of AD, people need help choosing appropriate food. On their own, they may eat only food that is not healthy or is unsuitable for any medical conditions they may have. You don't want to become the food police and say "no" all the time, so keep items that are good for the person to eat readily available. When offering food, don't clutter the plate. When necessary, cut food into bite-size pieces. If the person wants to eat with his fingers, try not to be critical and offer finger food. Be aware that people in this stage may add too much salt or pepper to their food by mistake or put sugar rather than salt on a hamburger. It may be best to keep these condiments out of reach. In a restaurant you may have to remove them from the table.
In the middle stage of AD, people may be easily distracted while eating, so keep the environment calm. Turn off the television. Put music on the radio rather than a talk show. Sometimes, toward the end of the middle stage, people enjoy being fed even though they may still be able to feed themselves. They may not want this help all the time.
In the more severe stage you will have to puree´ all the food and feed the person all the time. Be sure the person is sitting up straight enough so he will not choke. In the very end stage some people may want to drink from a bottle. This may be an effective way of feeding them.
NOTE: People with dementia often seem to have a sweet tooth. Ice cream and other treats can be used to encourage them to finish either a meal or other activities. Place acceptable treats where they can be found easily and restricted items out of sight.