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elderly woman eating with caregiver's help

Senior Care Tools: Making Eating Independently Easier for Seniors with Alzheimer’s

Senior Care in Princeton, MA

Making sure your elderly parents get the high-quality nutrition they need on a daily basis is one of the most important things you can do as a family caregiver. If you care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, however, meal and snack times can be extremely challenging. The disease can make it difficult for your elderly loved ones to eat independently, can reduce their appetite, and can even take away their ability to remember the purpose of eating. Innovative senior care tools designed to address some of these challenges can encourage your elderly parents to eat more independently and enjoy the process again.

As Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, your aging parents’ eating and drinking abilities will change throughout the course of the illness. Getting started with modified eating utensils and other tools early in the progression can help stimulate their minds and boost their confidence with the continued independence of the activity, and allows you to gradually change the approach as their needs change. Having these tools in the home is also a fantastic way to make meal and snack times easier for your aging loved ones’ non-medical home care provider, particularly if she enters into a care relationship with your parents after they have already progressed in the disease.

Some of the innovative and useful tools that can help you encourage more independent eating for your elderly loved ones with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia include:

  • Brightly colored tablewareBright colors stimulate the appetite, so using bright red or bright yellow plates and bowls can help encourage seniors with little appetite to eat more. These colors also provide a bold contrast between the tableware and the food, making it easier for the aging adults to see, reducing confusion and anxiety associated with eating.
  • Bumper guards. The actual mechanics of eating tend to become more difficult for seniors with Alzheimer’s disease. This can result in them pushing food off of the edge of the plate, which not only wastes the food but causes embarrassment and frustration. Bumper guards are curved plastic or metal pieces that attach to the back of a plate to create a “wall” that prevents food from falling over the edge and makes it easier to scoop up individual bites.
  • Double-handled cups. Seniors with dementia may have difficulty holding, lifting, and moving objects, particularly with one hand. Double-handled cups feature grips on both sides so your elderly parents can hold it securely with two hands and drink.
  • Suction cups. Dishes moving suddenly or sliding across the table can be frightening and disorienting for elderly adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Plates and bowls with suction cups on the bottom provide a secure base that prevents movement of the dishes even with less-controlled eating habits. Special placemats and grip pads are also available that provide additional traction so you can use your usual tableware but not deal with unexpected movement.
  • Modified utensils. Picking up a utensil, filling it with food, lifting it to his mouth, turning it, and putting it in his mouth can be a lot of steps for seniors with dementia to follow when eating. The actual mechanics of these steps can also be challenging, resulting in spills and frustration. Modified utensils that feature a straight handle and the actual fork or spoon head at an angle allow your parents to simply lift the utensil and put it in their mouths.

If you or an aging loved one are considering non-medical in-home care in Worcester, MA, call Griswold Home Care and speak to one of our caring staff members today. Call (508) 917-6649