Struggles with Food
As my husband's Alzheimer's progresses he struggles more and more with certain types of food. I first noticed him having difficulty cutting a piece of pizza rather than picking it up with his hands. Sandwiches, burgers, and handhelds became too cumbersome. He began to eat them layer by layer from the top down without picking them up at all.
The days of offering a steak or a chicken breast or pork chop with a sharp knife and fork are in the past. The task of cutting meat into bite-size pieces is too much. Additionally, salads with large pieces needing to be cut are too intense now.
Adjusting our approach to food
If your loved one still enjoys all these foods but just has trouble getting them to his mouth the fix is easy! A pizza cutter is a marvelous tool! It can be used to cut just about everything from pizza to scrambled eggs to salads and other vegetables.
It makes the job of presenting his plate faster and easier. His delicious food is already cut up and ready to enjoy. Cutting sandwiches into quarters may be helpful, too.
Utensils, bowls, and plates
Since cutting food has become more challenging, so has balancing food on a fork. For many mealtimes, I swap out a large soup spoon which is easier to scoop and balance. Using bowls or plates with edges makes pushing the food over to the side to more easily fill the spoon.
Someone recently advised using toddler plates and bowls with suction cups on the bottom and this is brilliant!
My husband can still go out to a restaurant although we go early before the noisy crowd arrives. He can still enjoy the taste of a steak, he just can no longer tackle cutting it. I simply request that the server ask the kitchen to cut his steak, and all his food for that matter, into tiny bite-size pieces. I used to cut it up for him if he was having difficulty, but I feel this is a more dignified approach.
Furthermore, I ask for a soup spoon. When it arrives I quietly swap out the fork and knife, placing them out of view so there is no disagreement.
Your loved ones may not realize when they're thirsty, so offering a variety of flavors often, is important. I recently found that adding ice cubes makes my husband drink his beverage faster! Popsicles and fruits that contain a lot of water, like watermelon, are other ways to help hydration.
Got an old button-down shirt your loved one doesn't wear anymore? If food and drinks are landing on his shirt and pants, try placing the old shirt on backward. The old shirt will protect his clothes from spills. The tail of the shirt if it's long enough, will lay on his lap protecting his pants.
When mealtime is over, it's easy to take off the extra shirt, shake it out and throw it in the hamper. As a result, dignity is preserved as it's not a bib!
Would you like to talk to others in the Alzheimer's community about struggles with food and tips? Reach out in our forums.
Are you a male caregiver to a loved one with Alzheimer's disease?