The American Heart Association’s Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations

(American Heart Association) A healthy diet and lifestyle are your best weapons to fight cardiovascular disease. It’s not as hard as you may think!  Remember, it’s the overall pattern of your choices that counts. Make the simple steps below part of your life for long-term benefits to your health and your heart.

Use up at least as many calories as you take in.

  • Start by knowing how many calories you should be eating and drinking to maintain your weight.
  • Don’t eat more calories than you know you can burn up every day.
  • Increase the amount and intensity of your physical activity to match the number of calories you take in.
  • Aim for at least 30 minutes of moderate physical activity on most days of the week or — best of all — at least 30 minutes every day.

Regular physical activity can help you maintain your weight, keep off weight that you lose and help you reach physical and cardiovascular fitness. If you can’t do at least 30 minutes at one time, you can add up 10-minute sessions throughout the day.

If you would benefit from lowering your blood pressure or cholesterol, the American Heart Association recommends 40 minutes of aerobic exercise of moderate to vigorous intensity three to four times a week.

Eat a variety of nutritious foods from all the food groups.

You may be eating plenty of food, but your body may not be getting the nutrients it needs to be healthy. Nutrient-rich foods have vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients but are lower in calories. Eating a variety of fruits and vegetables may help you control your weight, cholesterol and your blood pressure.

To get the nutrients you need, eat a dietary pattern that emphasizes:

Many diets fit this pattern, including the  DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) eating plan and diets suggested by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the American Heart Association. Eating patterns can be adapted based on your cultural and food preferences and nutrition therapy for medical conditions such asdiabetes.

Eat less of the nutrient-poor foods.

The right number of calories to eat each day is based on your age and physical activity level and whether you’re trying to gain, lose or maintain your weight. You could use your daily allotment of calories on a few high-calorie foods and beverages, but you probably wouldn’t get the nutrients your body needs to be healthy. Limit foods and beverages high in calories but low in nutrients. Also limit the amount of saturated fat, trans fat and sodium you eat.Read Nutrition Facts labels carefully — the Nutrition Facts panel tells you the amount of healthy and unhealthy nutrients in a food or beverage.

As you make daily food choices, base your eating pattern on these recommendations:

  • Choose lean meats and poultry without skin and prepare them without added saturated and trans fat.  
  • Eat fish at least twice a week. Recent research shows that eating oily fish containing omega-3 fatty acids(for example, salmon, trout and herring) may help lower your risk of death from coronary artery disease. 
  • Select fat-free, 1 percent fat and low-fat dairy products.
  • Cut back on foods containing partially hydrogenated vegetable oils to reduce trans fat in your diet. 
  • To lower cholesterol, reduce saturated fat to no more than 5 to 6 percent of total calories. For someone eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s about 13 grams of saturated fat.
  • Cut back on beverages and foods with added sugars. 
  • Choose and prepare foods with little or no salt. To lower blood pressure, aim to eat no more than 2,400 milligrams of sodium per day. Reducing daily intake to 1,500 mg is desirable because it can lower blood pressure even further.
  • If you drink alcohol, drink in moderation. That means one drink per day if you’re a woman and two drinks per day if you’re a man.
  • Follow the American Heart Association recommendations when you eat out, and keep an eye on yourportion sizes.

Also, don’t smoke tobacco — and avoid secondhand smoke.

Learn more about quitting smoking

For more information on the American Heart Association Diet and Lifestyle Recommendations:

Citation

http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/HealthyEating/The-American-Heart-Associations-Diet-and-Lifestyle-Recommendations_UCM_305855_Article.jsp

©2015 American Heart Association, Inc. All rights reserved.

 

Need Help on Mother’s Day? Perfect Gifts for Seniors Living in Assisted Living Facilities

(Ezine) It’s no secret that finding the perfect gift for a senior citizen is a bit difficult, but shopping for a present for someone living in an assisted living facility is a little more tedious. Individuals in long-term care facilities may not need much more than the everyday necessities. However, when it comes birthdays or Christmas presents, they deserve something a little extra special too.

Keep it simple. There’s no need to go overboard with the gifts you buy for an individual living in assisted living facility. In many places, the seniors’ rooms remain unlocked, so you will want something that isn’t extremely valuable in case it gets broken or misplaced

Gifts for Seniors in Long-Term Care Facilities

Here are some gift ideas for those living in nursing homes or other types of long-term residential facilities:

  • Soap, lotions and other toiletries
  • Tissues with decorative holders
  • Box of miscellaneous greeting cards with pre-stamped envelopes
  • Filled picture frames and photo albums
  • Homemade treats (if allowed)
  • Decorative hand towels
  • Lap blankets
  • Phone cards
  • Homemade arts and crafts (from grandchildren)
  • Favorite music on CD
  • Large-print books and puzzles
  • Housecoat and slippers
  • Bed jacket, shawl or nice cardigan sweater
  • New shirts and pants
  • New blanket or afghan
  • Pads of paper and pens to write notes
  • Hats, scarves and gloves
  • Stuffed animals
  • Large dial watch or alarm clock
  • Costume jewelry and hair accessories

Gifts That Keep Giving

There are also many gifts you can give to someone living in an assisted living facility that don’t cost anything more than time. Most often, these mean more than items purchased from a store:

  • Acknowledgement:  Just smiling and saying hello to other residents gives them a feeling of reassurance and respect.
  • Compliments:  Taking notice of a resident’s new haircut or sweater will boost his or her self-esteem.
  • Conversation:  Many residents enjoy talking especially to someone new. Spend a few minutes chatting with several residents; it will make their day.
  • Teach a skill:  Knitting and crocheting are pretty popular at senior housing facilities, so if you have these skills, spend an afternoon with residents who enjoy these crafts too. If possible, bring in some extra yarn and needles or hooks so others can get involved.
  • Reading:  Spend a few hours each week or month reading to those who can no longer see well enough to read.
  • Bring on the music: If you are musically inclined or know someone who is, spend some time each month conducting sing-a-longs with the residents.
  • Activity helper:  Call out numbers for a bingo game or help players with their game cards.
  • Raise money:  Organize a community fundraiser to help raise funds for an assisted living facility; money raised can purchase crafts and other activities.

Final Note

Don’t buy gifts that are heavy or take up a lot of space. There isn’t much room for them. Also, many residents of assisted living facilities don’t have families or friends who visit, so you may want to add them to your shopping lists for birthdays or Christmas. They will certainly enjoy and appreciate being remembered.

Citation

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Mike_Harriman

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/6949235

 

Suggesting a Memory Screening for a Loved One

(The Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation) It can be a touchy moment: You notice changes in a loved one’s cognitive abilities, want to suggest screening for possible memory deficit, but aren’t sure how to go about doing that. If that sounds like a situation you’ll be in soon, read on.

The entire family should consult with a healthcare professional to bring up the subject of a memory screening.

When a caregiver suggests to an older family member that they have their memory evaluated, the loved one often responds with fear, denial or even hostility. It’s a very difficult issue for older people and it’s important to choose the right way to talk about it.

“A family member should keep in mind that the prospect of a memory screening can be very confronting for an older person,” says Danielle Arends, advanced practice nurse at the Rush Memory Clinic at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, Ill. “The thought of it can create strong feelings of anxiety—possibly fear of what may be found out—embarrassment and for some people, a lack of understanding about why they need to have a memory screening done.”

It’s important to realize that a proper diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease is a multi-step process that requires testing administered by a trained neurologist. A memory screening is only an initial step in this process. In addition, not all people with Alzheimer’s have a significant memory problems in the early stages of the disease. Alzheimer’s can begin with language problems and problems with day to day functioning.

Stay Positive

According to Arends, when mentioning a memory screening—a series of questions and tasks that detect impairments in memory and thinking—it’s best to accentuate the positive. Explain to your loved one that finding memory problems early increases the chances of better care if dementia or Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed. “The earlier you intervene in this condition, both medically and with cognitive therapy, the better your chance of slowing the symptoms and achieving a better quality of life,” Arends says.

When should you suggest a memory evaluation? Observe the loved one’s behavior. When their faltering memory causes problems finding words, a detachment from people, irritability, confusion, forgotten appointments or difficulty with everyday affairs such as grocery shopping, cooking or paying bills, it’s time to broach the subject. Ultimately, a family should rely on gut instinct—they know their loved one better than anyone else.

When it’s time for that important talk, the primary caregiver in the family shouldn’t go it alone. “They need to ‘huddle up’ as a family,” says Dr. Jamie Huysman (www.drjamie.com), PsyD, LCSW, CAP, CFT, psychologist, social worker and adjunct professor at Florida International University. “Usually the primary caregiver closest to the loved one is dealing with a lot in addition to caring for their loved one: job stress, their kids and all of the other anxieties in their own lives. Families should share the load. Have a group conversation about the loved one and the behaviors that you’ve observed, and make plans as a family for the next steps.”

Choosing the Best Way

There are four basic ways to approach your loved one about having a memory screening, the first two of which are not recommended:

  • Caregiver One-to-One: This method can be ineffective, even when a trusted family caregiver broaches the subject in a non-threatening way. The loved one may fear that the screening will reveal memory problems and lead to a loss of independence, and thus respond negatively.
  • Group intervention: This technique— typically used for people with alcoholism or drug addiction— in which the family sits in a circle and confronts the loved one, isn’t appropriate for this situation. “I never use this method with patients who are facing memory-loss issues,” says Dr. Huysman. “It’s too confrontational and intimidating for them—it simply doesn’t work.”
  • Crisis intervention: This method is used when a life-threatening situation such as a fall or injury occurs. After emergency medical technicians transport the loved one to a medical facility, physicians explain that the loved one needs more help than the family caretaker can provide. If the loved one agrees, the family can consider an assisted-living or skilled nursing facility.
  • Involving a medical or mental health professional: This approach works best. The family meets with the loved one along with their primary care doctor, neurologist or psychologist. The medical professional recommends, for example, that the loved one isn’t able to drive a car anymore. Since the statement comes from an objective expert—and not a family member—the loved one is more likely to accept it. The entire family can listen to the recommendations together and ask their loved one to have a memory screening.

Additional Tips for Best Results

Here are some other helpful suggestions for handling this difficult situation:

  • Don’t isolate yourself: If your loved one is evaluated and diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, contact a support group, such as www.ALZTalk.org. You can find a support group in your area by clicking on Alzheimer’s Resources.
  • Find a safe place: The loved one should have a safe place to go to talk about the situation. Contact an experienced therapist or caregiver who thoroughly understands this issue and will allow your loved one to express any feelings about the suspected memory loss.
  • Make lifestyle changes: If Alzheimer’s disease is diagnosed early, medications and other lifestyle changes such as improved diet, managing other medical problems well, preserving social connections, remaining physically active and treating psychiatric problems such as depression can increase chances of a higher quality of life.
  • Caregiver, take care of yourself: A caregiver who is anxious and fearful can’t provide effective care to a loved one in need of stability and reassurance. A caregiver must take time to nurture mind, body and soul. When the caregiver feels confident, optimistic and at peace, the loved one who is facing the difficult issue of memory loss will tend to feel the same way.

Do you have a question you would like to ask the experts at the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation? If so, please call 1-800-ALZINFO, visit ALZinfo.org or send surface mail to Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, 199 Water Street, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10038, or e-mail info@alzinfo.org.

Citation

Source: www.ALZinfo.org. Author: Kevin Gault, Preserving Your Memory: The Magazine of Health and Hope; Fall 2010.

http://www.alzinfo.org/12/alz-guide/suggest-memory-screening

© 2002 – 2015, a 501c3 not for profit, Tax ID # 13-3859563

 

Mediterranean Diet Recipes from the Mayo Clinic

(Mayo Clinic) People who follow the Mediterranean diet have a longer life expectancy and lower rates of chronic diseases than do other adults. Indeed, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans point to the Mediterranean diet as an example of a healthy-eating plan.

The Mediterranean diet emphasizes plant-based foods, such as fruits and vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts. It replaces butter with healthy fats, such as olive oil and canola oil, and uses herbs and spices instead of salt to flavor foods. Red meat is limited to no more than a few times a month, while fish should be on the menu twice a week.

The Mediterranean diet is also about enjoying delicious foods — as you’ll discover when you try these recipes.

Main Dishes

Salads and Sides

Healthy Desserts

Citation

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/mediterranean-diet-recipes/MY02229

References

  1. Mediterranean Diet & Pyramid: Overview. Oldways Preservation Trust. http://www.oldwayspt.org/resources/heritage-pyramids/mediterranean-pyramid/overview. Accessed Sept. 6, 2012.
  2. Dietary Guidelines for Americans, 2010. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/DGAs2010-PolicyDocument.htm. Accessed Sept. 6, 2012.
  3. Mediterranean diet tips for everyone. Oldways Preservation Trust. http://www.oldwayspt.org/what-can-you-do/consumers?page=5. Accessed Sept. 6, 2012.

© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research (MFMER). All rights reserved. A single copy of these materials may be reprinted for noncommercial personal use only. “Mayo,” “Mayo Clinic,” “MayoClinic.com,” “EmbodyHealth,” “Enhance your life,” and the triple-shield Mayo Clinic logo are trademarks of Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research.

 

Meaningful Activity Can Relieve Sundowning for Those with Dementia

(Mayo Clinic) All behavior has meaning. When we accept this our relationship with the person living with dementia dramatically changes. We look for meaningful explanations for what they do, rather than judging, labeling or dismissing it just because they have Alzheimer’s.

Let’s think about this in the context of sundowning. Sundowning is a label commonly applied to people with Alzheimer’s when restlessness, agitation, irritability, paranoia or confusion appears as daylight begins to fade.

Because of perceptual, language and memory deficits, people with dementia often have difficulty understanding and talking about the sources of their discomfort and their needs. As a result, some may compensate by expressing themselves through actions.

So, if people living with Alzheimer’s were able to express verbally what was causing such restlessness, I wonder what they might say. Perhaps some would communicate that they’re uncomfortable, maybe lunch was served several hours ago and late afternoon hunger has set in. Others might say they’re feeling confused or insecure due to the reduced lighting and/or shadows caused by the sun’s disappearance.

I believe that quite often, late day irritability or restlessness occurs when the natural ebb and flow of energy levels aren’t adequately satisfied. We all have a need for periods of higher and then lower levels of activities and stimulation throughout the day. According to sleep experts, the body clock of older adults is extra alert in the morning when they wake up and then peaks again in the late afternoon or early evening.

If we apply this logic to those living with dementia, it could it be that they’re restless in late afternoon because they’re bored and need of something meaningful to do.

Late afternoon is when many residential living environments offer fewer activities; shifts change, staffs come and go.

Someone living with dementia may see increased staff activity during a time when their energy level is peaking and become agitated if they’re restricted from leaving the building.

An important key in reducing late afternoon restlessness, agitation or confusion may lie in promoting a flow of meaningful activities that accommodate the natural periods of high and low energy throughout the day.

Activities to satisfy higher energy levels may be best offered in the morning, as well as before meals to foster alertness, and then late in the afternoon and into the early evening. Calming and more restful activities might be better suited later in the morning and in the hours following lunch.

Those living with dementia sometimes have difficulty planning or beginning an activity on their own. This means that as caregivers, friends and family, we play an incredibly valuable role. If you’re wondering what sorts of activities are best, here’s a thought.

Research suggests that social interaction involving conversation with family, peers or with a baby or pet is one of the most stimulating and engaging activities to promote a positive mood for those living with dementia. That shouldn’t come as a surprise.

Meaningful activity and wanting to engage in life with others is a fundamental human need. Those living with dementia maintain the ability to feel the joy and satisfaction of being connected with others no matter where in the sky the sun may be.

Citation

Angela Lunde

http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/alzheimers-disease/expert-blog/sundow

© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All rights reserved.

 

What is Guardianship or Conservatorship? An Overview of Determining Mental Incapacity

(About) Guardianship, or conservatorship as it’s called in some states, is the legal proceeding in a state court where a person, called the “Guardian” or “Conservator,” is appointed to exercise some or all of the legal rights of the incapacitated person, called the “Ward.”

How Mental Incapacity is Determined by a Court

How is a person determined to be mentally incapacitated and therefore in need of a guardian or conservator? The exact procedure will vary state by state, but in general the following steps will be taken:

  1. A petition that questions a person’s mental capacity will be filed with the appropriate state court. Usually any “interested person” can file the petition, including the alleged incapacitated person’s family members, friends, and professional advisors.
  2. The court will appoint a committee of physicians, nurses and/or social workers to examine the alleged incapacitated person. Either the court itself will be responsible for assembling the committee or the attorney for the person who filed the petition to determine capacity will be responsible.
  3. The court will appoint an attorney to represent the person who is alleged to be incapacitated. Again, either the court itself will be responsible for finding the attorney or the attorney for the person who filed the petition to determine capacity will be responsible.
  4. The committee will meet with and examine the alleged incapacitated person. Each member of the committee will be required to meet in person with the alleged incapacitated person.
  5. The committee will prepare a written report about the alleged incapacitated person’s mental and physical condition and file it with the court. Each committee member will be required to contribute his or her observations to the report.
  6. The attorney will be required to meet in person with the alleged incapacitated person. The attorney will be required to inform the alleged incapacitated person about the court proceeding and read the petition to determine capacity to him or her.
  7. The attorney will prepare a written report about his or her meeting with the alleged incapacitated person and file it with the court. The attorney’s report will include whether or not the attorney believed the alleged incapacitated person understood the purpose of the meeting and the contents of the petition.
  8. The judge will review the petition, the committee’s findings, and the attorney’s report. The judge will take into consideration the expertise provided by the medical committee’s report as well as the observations of the attorney.
  9. A hearing will be held at which arguments will be made for or against the person’s need for a guardian or conservator. The alleged incapacitated person, his or her court-appointed attorney and all interested persons and their attorneys will be required to attend the hearing in order to assist the judge with making the right decision. Note, however, that the alleged incapacitated person won’t be required to attend the hearing if he or she is too sick to do so.
  10. The judge will make the final determination as to whether or not the person is completely competent or partially or totally incapacitated. The judge will combine the written findings of the medical committee, written report and testimony of attorney for the alleged incapacitated person with the testimony of all interested persons heard at the hearing and make the final decision as to the alleged incapacitated person’s overall mental abilities or disabilities.

The judge will look for the least restrictive way to assist the person who is determined to be partially or totally incapacitated. This means that if the person is determined to be partially incapacitated, then a guardian or conservator will be appointed only for limited purposes, such as paying bills or investing the incapacitated person’s assets. Or, if the person is determined to be totally incapacitated, then all of his or her legal rights will be taken away and instead handed over to the guardian or conservator.

Helping Family and Friends Understand Alzheimer’s Disease

(National Institute on Aging) When you learn that someone you love has AD, you may wonder when and how to tell your family and friends. You may be worried about how others will react to or treat the person. While there is no single right way to tell others, we’ve listed some things to think about.

Think about the following questions:

  • Are others already wondering what is going on?
  • Do you want to keep this information to yourself?
  • Are you embarrassed?
  • Do you want to tell others so that you can get support from family members and friends?
  • Are you afraid that you will burden others?
  • Does keeping this information secret take too much of your energy?
  • Are you afraid others won’t understand?

Realize that family and friends often sense that something is wrong before they are told. AD is hard to keep secret. When the time seems right, it is best for you to be honest with family, friends, and others. Use this as a chance to educate them about AD.

For example, you can:

  • Tell them about the disease and its effects.
  • Share books and information to help them understand what you and the person with AD are going through.
  • Tell them they can learn more. (See the section “When You Need Help“).
  • Tell them what they can do to help. Let them know you need breaks.

Help family and friends understand how to interact with the person who has AD. You can:

  • Help them realize what the person still can do and how much he or she still can understand.
  • Give them suggestions about how to start talking with the person. For example, “Hello George, I’m John. We used to work together.”
  • Help them avoid correcting the person with AD if he or she makes a mistake or forgets something.
  • Help them plan fun activities with the person, such as going to family reunions; church, temple, or mosque gatherings; other community activities; or visiting old friends.

Communicate with others when you’re out in public. Some caregivers carry a card that explains why the person with AD might say or do odd things. For example, the card could read, “My family member has Alzheimer’s disease. He or she might say or do things that are unexpected. Thank you for your understanding.”

The card allows you to let others know about the person’s AD without the person hearing you. It also means that you don’t have to keep explaining things.

Helping children understand AD

When a family member has AD, it affects everyone in the family, including children and grandchildren. It’s important to talk to them about what is happening. How much and what kind of information you share depends on the child’s age. It also depends on his or her relationship to the person with AD.

Give children information about AD that they can understand. There are good books about AD for children of all ages. Some are listed on the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center website, www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers.

Here are some other suggestions to help children understand what is happening:

  • Answer their questions simply and honestly. For example, you might tell a young child, “Grandma has an illness that makes it hard for her to remember things.”
  • Help them know that their feelings of sadness and anger are normal.
  • Comfort them. Tell them no one caused the disease. Young children may think they did something to hurt their grandparent.

If the child lives in the same house as someone with AD:

  • Don’t expect a young child to help take care of or “babysit” the person with AD.
  • Make sure the child has time for his or her own interests and needs, such as playing with friends, going to school activities, or doing homework.
  • Make sure you spend time with your child, so he or she doesn’t feel that all your attention is on the person with AD.
  • Help the child understand your feelings. Be honest about your feelings when you talk with a child, but don’t overwhelm him or her.

Many younger children will look to you to see how to act around the person with AD. Show children they can still talk with the person, and help them enjoy things each day. Doing fun things together can help both the child and the person with AD.

Here are some things they might do:

  • Do simple arts and crafts.
  • Play music.
  • Sing.
  • Look through photo albums.
  • Read stories out loud.

Some children may not talk about their negative feelings, but you may see changes in how they act. Problems at school, with friends, or at home can be a sign that they are upset. You may want to ask a school counselor or a social worker to help your child understand what is happening and learn how to cope. Be sure to check with your child often to see how he or she is feeling.

A teenager might find it very hard to accept how the person with AD has changed. He or she may find the changes upsetting or embarrassing and not want to be around the person. It’s a good idea to talk with teenagers about their concerns and feelings. Don’t force them to spend time with the person who has AD. This could make things worse.

If the stress of living with someone who has AD becomes too great for a child, think about placing the person with AD into a respite care facility. Then, both you and your child can get a much-needed break. See “Respite Services” for more information about respite care.

Citation

See more at: http://www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/publication/caring-person-ad/helping-family-members-and-others-understand-ad#sthash.GU7jS6Nk.dpuf

National Institute on Aging

 

Alzheimer’s: Making Mealtimes Easier

(Mayo Clinic) Alzheimer’s and eating can be a challenge. Understand what causes eating problems and take simple steps to ensure good nutrition.

Alzheimer’s disease and eating challenges often go hand in hand. As Alzheimer’s progresses, poor nutrition can aggravate confusion and lead to physical weakness, as well as increase the risk of infection and other health concerns.

If you’re caring for a loved one who has Alzheimer’s, understand what causes eating problems and how you can encourage good nutrition.

Consider Underlying Conditions

If your loved one is having trouble eating, check for underlying problems, such as:

  • Oral problems. Make sure dentures fit properly and are being used. Check for mouth sores or other oral or dental issues.
  • Medication effects. Many medications decrease appetite, including some drugs used to treat Alzheimer’s. If you think medications are contributing to eating problems, ask your loved one’s doctor about substitutions.
  • Chronic conditions. Diabetes, heart disease, digestive problems and depression can dampen interest in eating. Constipation can have the same effect. Treating these or other underlying conditions might improve your loved one’s appetite.  Also, consider talking to your loved one’s doctor about removing dietary restrictions.

Acknowledge Declining Skills and Senses

In the early stages of Alzheimer’s, your loved one might forget to eat or lose the skills needed to prepare proper meals. Call to remind him or her to eat or help with food preparation. If you make meals in advance, be sure to review how to unwrap and reheat them. You might also consider using a meal delivery service.

In addition, your loved one’s sense of smell and taste might begin to diminish, which can affect interest in eating.

As Alzheimer’s progresses, your loved one might forget table manners and eat from others’ plates or out of serving bowls. Changes in the brain might cause him or her to lose impulse control and judgment and, in turn, eat anything in sight — including nonfood items. During the later stages of the disease, difficulty swallowing is common.

Expect Agitation and Distraction

Agitation and other signs and symptoms of Alzheimer’s can make it difficult to sit still long enough to eat a meal. Distractions at mealtime might make this even worse. To reduce distractions, turn off the TV, radio and telephone ringer. Put your cellphone on vibrate. You might also clear the table of any unnecessary items.

If your loved one needs to pace, try cutting a sandwich into quarters and giving him or her a section while he or she walks.

Discourage your loved one from drinking alcoholic beverages. Although alcohol might stimulate the appetite, it can lead to confusion and agitation as well as contribute to falls.

Get Visual

Use white dishes to help your loved one distinguish the food from the plate. Similarly, use placemats of a contrasting color to help distinguish the plate from the table. Stick with solid colors, though. Patterned plates, bowls and linens might be confusing.

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.

Citation

http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-living/caregivers/in-depth/alzheimers/art-20047918/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=alzheimers-caregiving&pg=1

© 1998-2015 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. All rights reserved.