Mom Just Wants to Eat Cookies- Is This Okay?
It can be difficult enough just coping with your loved one’s dementia. Not being recognized, arguments over wearing appropriate clothing, the worry every day. But now you have to worry that someone you love is getting the right nutrition.
“Is there a dementia diet that is best? And what happens if mom just wants to eat cookies all day? Should I let her? This seems to be one of the few pleasures she has left.” Shannon, adult daughter
But just eating cookies takes its toll on their dietary needs. On top of this, she may forget to eat altogether. Other dementia patients have trouble using their fork or knife and even downright refuse to eat. And a dementia diet may not have any nutrients at all. And that happens when someone only wants to eat food they like, which may be something they remember, like ice cream or cookies. In fact, a lot of people with dementia seem to have a really strong sweet tooth.
Dementia Diet and Overall Health
Someone living with dementia needs the same nutritional requirements as everyone else. But they also may need a few more requirements when it comes to choices and the very method of eating.
At Sycamore Creek Ranch we understand the importance of food. Furthermore, food is not only nutrition but also pleasure and comfort.
Here we will look at how to make sure they get the nutrition they need and a few tips on making sure they do eat properly.
Nutritional Needs- A Dementia Diet That Works
All too often, people living with dementia have trouble choosing healthy food options on their own. They may also only want to eat certain foods that they remember or recognize and find comforting and familiar.
Provide a variety of healthy choices for meals or snacks. Fresh fruit and vegetables, lean proteins. It may make it easier for many people to have the food available as a snack, that they can eat with their hands.
Try to cut out their access to foods that are high in saturated fats and high in sodium and refined sugar. This will affect their weight, their mood and can aggravate other health concerns they may have.
Getting Them to Eat
It may be difficult to get your loved on to eat regularly. When they don’t eat properly it can affect their weight, their blood pressure, and their moods. They may not feel hungry due to changes in their medication. Also not recognizing foods and their sense of smell and taste can also be diminishing.
Eat Together To Ensure a Healthy Dementia Diet:
Make mealtime a special time for them. Sit with them and make it a family and social event of the day. At Sycamore Creek Ranch a caregiver is at the table. And there are other residents there as well. Plus it feels more like home with everyone sitting around the table together.
Offer only a few different items for each meal. People may become overwhelmed by too many choices and get more confused.
Keep it Simple:
Keep outside distractions to a minimum. And keep the room quiet. Don’t have the television or radio playing unless it is just soft background music. Furthermore, avoid a lot of crossover conversations that are noisy, confusing and difficult to follow. If you want someone to follow a healthy dementia diet this is an important part.
Keep the table clear, as well. Try to avoid loud busy patterns on the table, the table cloth and the dishes. And use a plain white or light-colored plate or bowl. Additionally, use a variety of food choices so they can differentiate between each food item.
Allow Them Plenty of Time:
Don’t rush them through their meals. Let them discover and enjoy their food without any pressure. Also, you can make it easier for them by changing the way they eat. Offering smaller, bite-sized options, easier or no utensils and find dishes that help them feed themselves easier.
Keep an Open Mind:
Your loved one may start to have different tastes and preferences in their food choices. And they may find something that they used to like is no longer appealing.
Be open to their needs. And try to offer a variety of different foods each meal to ensure they find something they like and are still getting the nutrients they need.
Try to remain calm with them. They may have trouble remembering if they ate and want something else right after they ate. This is why smaller portions and finger foods are a great choice.
Let them get messy, as well. Don’t worry about spills and mess and don’t chastise them if they spill or even throw the food. Use a plastic cover or none at all and use something to protect their clothing.
Food Preparation For a Dementia Diet:
The person may have problems with chewing or swallowing. Furthermore, they may also have digestion concerns. Therefore, make softer foods that are easier to chew and swallow. And cut their food into smaller bite-sized pieces. Also always be mindful of choking. Try to keep their favorite foods on offer with smaller alterations for them to make it easier to eat and enjoy.
Steaming vegetables, pureeing, mashing and grinding foods will make it easier to for them to eat. Adding some healthy spices and seasonings can help them smell and taste the food better.
Avoid fats or sodium for seasoning and opt for heart-healthy spices like cumin, cinnamon, garlic, curry, and even dill. You never know what the person wants and or sense of smell is a big trigger for memory.
Living with dementia is difficult enough. Finding ways to take the pressure off the loved one and the caregiver make it a little easier. Mealtimes are so often family time, so it’s important to encourage that tradition even in advanced stages of dementia.
Caring for someone with dementia is not easy. It can weigh heavily on your heart. Allowing someone else to take over the daily care routine will allow you to be the spouse, daughter, son or grandchild again. Come for a tour at Sycamore Creek Ranch! See how we can help!