Individuals with late stage Alzheimer's may have difficulty swallowing food and liquids which can cause aspiration into the airway and lungs and eventually become pneumonia. Use these helpful tips with a loved one challenged with Alzheimer's to avoid eating and drinking mishaps.
Limit noise and any distractions when eating.
Keep items on the table to a minimum which can cause confusion.
Choose foods that are soft and can be chewed or swallowed easily.
You may need to mash or puree food items. Baby food is not appropriate for adults with difficulty swallowing it is too thin.
Serve only one food at a time. Too many items on the plate can be overwhelming.
Demonstrate eating by lifting the spoon to your mouth. Provide verbal prompting for eating, chewing and swallowing. Keep in mind that it may take longer to finish eating, allow for plenty of time.
Thicken liquids to lower the risk of choking due to swallowing problems. Add cornstarch or unflavored gelatin to water, juice, milk, broth and soup. Commercial food thickeners can be purchased at the drug store.
Check with your doctor to see if a multi vitamin or high protein drink is needed.
Staying hydrated may be a problem. Encourage fluids by offering small amounts throughout the day. Along with water hydration can come from fruit, soup, milkshakes and smoothies.
Always test the temperature of foods and beverages before serving them to someone with Alzheimer's.
Use serving items that are easy for your loved one to use. You may need to use a bowl instead of a plate and a spoon instead of a fork, or even hands if it is easier.
Avoid foods that are difficult to chew like large cuts of meat, carrots and whole apples. Keep foods bite-size and easy to pick up and eat.
Have your loved one sit up straight with their head slightly forward to help avoid choking.
You may need to check your loved ones mouth to make sure their food has been swallowed.
If pocketing food in the mouth is a problem, to induce swallowing give a small amount of unsweetened lemon juice. The natural reaction to lemons is to pucker and suck.
Be prepared for an emergency and learn the Heimlich maneuver! Go to U-Tube to watch a demonstration or do an on-line search for more information.
If the challenges of family and career are making life overwhelming and difficult to care for a loved one in need of assistance, we can help. Today’s families have very busy lifestyles so many times family members want to help and in many cases try to help but generally it is only a matter of time before it all becomes overwhelming trying to juggle too many tasks at one time. For most just knowing that companies like ours are here when you need support and an extra set of caring hands make the process less stressful and smooth.
Should a loved one need help, call us today 770-442-8664!
Easy Living Services, Inc.
Providing Home Care to Atlanta families since 1994