Try large-handled utensils
To prevent slipping, apply suction cups to the bottom of plates or use placemats that have traction on both sides. You could also make placemats from a roll of the rubbery mesh typically used to line shelves. Sometimes bowls are easier to use than plates.
Likewise, spoons might be easier to handle than forks. The larger the spoon's handle, the better. Try bendable straws or lidded cups for liquids.
Offer foods one at a time
If your loved one is overwhelmed by an entire plate of food, place one type of food at a time on the plate. You could also offer several small meals throughout the day, rather than three larger ones.
Cut food into bite-sized portions. Finger foods are even easier — but avoid foods that can be tough to chew and swallow, such as nuts, popcorn and raw carrots.
Take your time
Don't rush mealtimes. Remind your loved one to chew and swallow carefully, and allow him or her as much time as necessary.
Encourage your loved one to follow your actions, such as holding a fork or drinking from a cup — or gently place your hand over your loved one's hand to hold a utensil and bring food to his or her mouth.
Sneak in extra nutrition
If you're having a hard time getting your loved one to eat enough, prepare favorite foods. Avoid diet foods. Serve a filling breakfast or several light breakfasts in a row. You might also offer high-calorie snacks — such as protein milkshakes. Consult the doctor if sudden weight loss occurs.
Ensuring good nutrition in Alzheimer's can be a challenge, but it's worthwhile. Good nutrition can help your loved one better cope — both physically and emotionally — with the challenges of Alzheimer's.
Feb. 04, 2015
See more In-depth
- Stages of Alzheimer's disease. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/national/documents/topicsheet_stages.pdf. Accessed Dec. 26, 2014.
- Eating. Alzheimer's Association. http://www.alz.org/national/documents/topicsheet_eating.pdf. Accessed Dec. 26, 2014.
- Shatenstein B, et al. Dietary intervention in older adults with early-stage Alzheimer dementia: Early lessons learned. The Journal of Nutrition, Health & Aging. 2008;12:461.
- Smith KL, et al. Weight loss and nutritional considerations in Alzheimer disease. 2008;27:381.
- Weight loss and Alzheimer's disease: Temporal and aetiologic connections. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. 2013;72:160.
- Mace NL, et al. The 36-Hour Day. 5th ed. Baltimore, Md.: The Johns Hopkins University Press; 2011:68.