The Importance of Food & Hydration with Alzheimer’s Disease

I went to feed mom lunch this week. Eating for someone with Alzheimer’s becomes very difficult as the disease progresses. I am happy that mom still loves to eat, probably now more then ever. Her weight has stayed consistent and she is not as fussy as she was prior to the disease. But even though I am exposed to Alzheimer’s residents every single day, when feeding them you really have to pay attention.

Water is vital for hydration purposes, minimizing confusion, staving off UTI’s, helping to manage dizziness and skin integrity and it lubricates the throat to help with swallowing. As the disease progresses muscles in the throat start to lose strength and control, coupled with the loss of the mind’s ability to tell the throat to swallow. Giving small sips before starting a meal and throughout is incredibly important. This helps food go down easier. Though there is no fail safe way to ensure that residents are not going to choke who have advanced Alzheimer’s.

At some point the family and their doctor must decide when to go to pureed food. But in my mom’s case food has always been such a big part of joy in her life, we continue to give her whole foods.

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