Being the in-house chef for a loved one with dementia is a daily challenge. The disease makes, breaks and changes the rules, and can cause the most primal need — an appetite for food and liquids — to disappear. As the disease progresses skills are lost. Your loved one may become unable to apply logic, override inclinations, explain a sudden refusal to eat favorite meals or, as time goes on, remember the purpose of a spoon. Two things remain constant: your loved one’s need for nutrients and your need to make sure they are met.
To improve the experience for both of you and maximize the nutrients your loved one consumes, start here:
Know what doesn’t work
- Insisting that your loved one eat is not productive
- Nagging, pleading, frustration and, “Try a bite,” will not generate cooperation or hunger
- Leaving food in front of the person in your care after it is clear that they are uninterested in eating