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Making Meals More Enjoyable for Your Loved One with Dementia

Mealtime can be a challenging experience for seniors with dementia and their caregivers. As the day progresses and the sun starts to set, older adults with dementia may experience increased confusion, agitation, and anxiety—a phenomenon known as sundowning syndrome. The difficulties that come with sundowning can make it even tougher for both the senior and their caregiver to enjoy meal times together. However, with patience, understanding, and some practical strategies, it’s possible to make meals more enjoyable for everyone involved. Here are some invaluable tips provided by caregivers from our professional memory care program in Morris County, NJ

  1. Create a Comfortable Space

Just like dressing your best to feel your best, it’s important to set the stage for a pleasant meal in order to actually have a pleasant meal. Create a calm and familiar environment free from distractions. Dim the lights slightly to reduce glare, turn off noisy TVs or music players, and if the weather permits, open the windows to encourage a more relaxing atmosphere. Soft background music can also help to soothe your loved one’s senses.

  1. Serve Familiar and Favorite Foods

Don’t use meal times with your loved one as an excuse to be adventurous and try out a new recipe. It’s best to stick to favorite foods that you know your loved one enjoys. It also helps to offer more than one choice of their favorites to better stimulate their appetite and interest. If they’re on any medications, pay careful attention to any dietary restrictions or preferences and make adaptations to the meals as needed moving forward. 

  1. Encourage Independence

While it’s essential to provide assistance when necessary, encourage your loved one to participate in meal preparation and serving as much as possible. This can help them to maintain a sense of independence and dignity, which will in turn boost their confidence and overall enjoyment of the meal.

  1. Maintain a Routine

Routine is crucial for all seniors, especially those who suffer from dementia. Establishing a consistent mealtime routine can provide that much-needed stability to keep the meal running smoothly. For example, serve your loved one breakfast, lunch and dinner at the same time each day and follow a predictable sequence of events. This can help to reduce anxiety and confusion, making eating more relaxed and enjoyable.

  1. Maintain a Positive Mindset

Above all, approach meal times with the right mindset – having patience, understanding, and empathy at the forefront. You should also be prepared for challenges and setbacks, and respond with the proper reassurance. Offer gentle reminders and assistance as needed, but avoid getting upset and pressuring your senior parent to eat. Responding the wrong way can turn a minor setback into a major ordeal with hurt feelings all around. 

Professional Memory Care Helps Seniors in Morris County NJ

Despite our best efforts, caring for a loved one with dementia can be overwhelming at times. That’s where professional memory care programs, like the one offered at Lester Senior Living in Morris County, can make a significant difference. With trained caregivers and specialized support services, these programs are designed to enhance the quality of life for seniors with dementia and their families.

At Lester Senior Living, our dedicated caregivers understand the unique needs and challenges of individuals with dementia. We offer personalized care to ensure that each resident feels comfortable, safe, and valued. Our beautiful dining room provides a welcoming setting for meal times, where residents can enjoy delicious and nutritious meals in the company of others. For those who may struggle with confusion or appetite, we also offer a variety of healthy snacks available throughout the day.

Meal times don’t have to be a source of stress or frustration for seniors with dementia and their caregivers. To learn more about how our memory care program can benefit your family, please give us a call or visit our website today at: https://jchcorp.org