Caring for dementia patients requires a number of skills and a level of understanding about what each individual is going through, and how to best to help them. One of the more challenging issues for dementia patients can be mealtimes, as dementia itself can spark eating behavioural issues. That and the fact that if your patient is older, they are also dealing with changes in their sense of taste and smell, appetite, and even thirst – all of which is a natural part of aging. What you’re left with is a potentially very stressful mealtime, three times a day.
Rather than continue down the same path and get stuck in a cycle, here are some tips you can use when it comes to cooking for dementia patients. This can make cooking and eating much more enjoyable.
Set Up a Schedule
The first tip is to set a schedule wherein meals are served at the same time each day. At this point, any distractions should be removed from the area so that your patient can focus on their meal. This could mean moving to a quiet dining area in their house, turning off the TV, and making sure they aren’t at a crowded table with a lot of activity.
Keep the Menu Simple
It is also a good idea to keep the menu relatively simple. That doesn’t mean it has to be boring, you just don’t want to overwhelm your patient with too many choices. It is typically suggested that you just offer one to two food choices per meal. You can also pre-slice items and serve them as handy finger foods or in bite-sized pieces so that it’s easy to chew and swallow.
Choose High Protein Food Items
In terms of what to feed your patients, ideally you want to choose high-protein foods at each and every meal. This will ensure your patient retains and even builds muscle mass, which can be an issue. If your patient is low weight, then you also want to choose high calorie options. This could be high calorie foods or beverages. Sometimes, a large meal may be what you want to serve your underweight patient, but in reality, you are probably better off offering small and frequent meals throughout the day.
Don’t Rush Your Patients
Despite the fact that meal time may move slowly, it’s important you don’t rush your patients. This can create stress, which then negatively affects the meal. In fact, they may not end up eating at all. Besides scheduling in extra time for meals, it’s also important to recognise that messes can occur. Learning to relax and not worry about the mess can help you and your patient. It’s a good plan to have all your cleaning supplies on-hand and nearby so that after mealtime you can do a thorough clean-up. You can check out sites like medical-supermarket.com for essential cleaning supplies.
Each of these tips will help you to keep the menu and mealtime in general smooth and stress-free for your dementia patients.