Transitioning into a memory care facility can be very difficult for you and your loved ones. From the logistical planning, moving belongings, and the emotional toll are all things to consider when making the transition.
Watching your loved one drop weight during this time is concerning, to say the least. There are many reasons why your loved one decides to stop eating. We’ve broken down the five most important and ways to kickstart their appetite. Our memory care team has put together a few tips to help you with getting the appetite going.
Reason #1: Find out your loved one’s favorite foods
This may seem obvious, but the key to kickstarting the appetite is the know what foods your loved one enjoys eating. Although a healthy diet is highly recommended, one way to get them to eat is to couple their favorite food with other nutritious meal portions. Let’s say your loved one enjoys eating ice cream. Introduce ice cream as the main course and include other healthy options as part of the ice cream. Remember to use moderation.
Bonus tip: Be sure to eliminate serious illnesses
Be sure to rule out any serious illnesses such as cancer or dental problems before deploying an eating strategy. Your loved one may not be eating due to an illness that may be currently undetected.
Tip #2: Keep to a routine and schedule
Keeping to an eating schedule is critical to maintaining the appetite. Pick three times during the day to sit down with your loved and have a meal. If you can’t make it down to eat with your loved one, we have a regular eating schedule we provide for our memory care residents.
Tip #3: Consult with your doctor
Having a consultation with your doctor regarding the loss of appetite can help you rule out an illness. Most importantly, your doctor has the medical history of your loved and can help you create a plan that best fits their patient. You may get a referral to a dietician which can customize meal plans to best encourage strengthing the appetite.
Tip #4: Remove the tools
Residents in our memory care center often have trouble using forks and spoons to eat. What once was an easy task can be difficult for those with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Take the utensils out of the equation and opt for finger foods such as chicken nuggets, cucumbers, celery sticks with peanut butter, or even sliders. This way, eating is much easier more likely.
No matter which tip you choose to use, it’s important to keep track of what is effective and what doesn’t work for your loved one. One easy way to to do this to keep a food journal for a month to document and keep track of the progress. The bottom line is to be patient and keep trying new ways without giving up hope or taking their not eating personally.