As dementia progresses, declining cognitive abilities make it difficult for a person to perform everyday tasks, such as eating. Especially in the later stages of the disease, those with memory loss can have trouble using utensils, chewing, swallowing and communicating their preferences or problems. Not only do these issues make for a difficult time at the dinner table, but eating problems can limit a person’s nutritional intake and overall health.
Nancy Clanton, Community Relations Director at Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay in Venice, FL, explains the importance of a caregiver’s role in dining situations: “Family caregivers can take several steps to make eating easier for their loved one with dementia. Learning the best ways to adapt your table settings and modify meals helps significantly to ensure your loved one can eat comfortably and get enough nutrients to stay well.”
To help your loved one get the most out of mealtimes, you should keep in mind any changes in appetite, declining skills and trouble with chewing or swallowing.
Making eating an enjoyable experience for your loved one will require plenty of preparation, observation and patience. The Alzheimer’s Association’s article, “Food, Eating and Alzheimer’s,” describes several reasons why your loved one may have trouble eating and lists ways to minimize their obstacles and increase their appetite, including:
Everyone with dementia experiences symptoms differently. Try different options and be creative to find the methods that work best for your loved one’s nutritional health, safety and enjoyment.
At Tuscan Gardens, those receiving memory care services experience the Signature Dining experience that promotes nutrition and comfort. “Meals in our Tuscan Kitchen are truly a multi-sensory experience,” says Clanton. “The room is spacious and open, so residents can watch our chef and his team prepare each meal. The smells of food cooking are delightful, and they help our memory care residents feel at home.
“We know that for many of our residents, the kitchen was the heart of their home, where they shared family dinners, fed their children, cooked and baked. We try to resemble that connection and familiarity in our Tuscan Kitchen, encouraging participation in cooking classes or fun get-togethers with friends and family.
“If any of our residents ever require assistance with eating, our care staff is always there to help. We also offer an array of delicious meal choices in a variety of textures and consistency for those who have trouble chewing and swallowing. Even in the later stages of dementia, it’s our goal to make every meal an enjoyable experience.”
At Tuscan Gardens® of Venetia Bay, we’ve mastered the art of living. We’ve perfected the balance of personalized support and an uplifting lifestyle, helping our residents experience independence, joy and meaning every day.
Offering supportive independent living, assisted living and memory care services for families in Venice, Florida, Tuscan Gardens of Venetia Bay was founded with one simple, yet profound goal – to create a community worthy of our parents. In all we do, we are guided by the principles of family, culture and engagement, working to represent the remarkable way of life our families deserve.
Luxury, intimacy, opportunity, passion and beauty combine to create what the Italians call sprezzatura – a culture of effortless elegance. The essence of our community is made up not only of mere aesthetics, but an artfully designed lifestyle to bring out the best of what each day has to offer. From dedicated care that respects residents’ individuality and dignity to a lifestyle that nurtures their love of life, Tuscan Gardens was built to be more than just a residence, but a place to call home.