Dementia can have a big impact on a resident’s appetite. While the condition itself can cause a problematic relationship with food, a move to a new care facility can bring up further problems.
Even in the early stages of dementia, the uncertainty and unfamiliarity of a new home can be distressing. For others, the move may make them feel that they have lost an element of control over their day to day lives, with something as simple as a slight change in mealtimes causing their appetite to disappear.
Here are three tips for your home that could help when catering for residents with dementia:
All day eating
While weight loss from dementia can be due to underlying medical issues, a lack of appetite can simply stem from a resident not feeling like eating at a set time. Dementia can disrupt sufferers’ circadian rhythms, so having food available throughout the day can encourage eating whenever a resident’s appetite is peaked, rather than tying them to rigid meal times. For early stage sufferers, a satellite kitchen [link to satellite kitchens article] can give them the opportunity to make their own small meals (like sandwiches or a tin of soup) when they want to eat.
As you already know, dementia is a condition that varies wildly from day to day, and this can sometimes mean that elderly patients are catered to their worse, not their best, days. Flexibility is key – while it’s important to respond to a resident’s condition on the day, still offer mealtime opportunities and choices as you would on a ‘good’ day, but don’t force decisions.
Taking part in kitchen activities can be therapeutic for dementia sufferers. Cooking, setting the table and preparing food are routines that most residents will have carried out since a young age, and continuing to do so after a move to a care home can have a settling effect: it also promotes prolonged independence. A satellite kitchen can help you arrange activities like these in a calm, safe space, and help dementia sufferers feel in control of their meal time.
To find out more about how our semi-commercial kitchens could benefit catering and self-sufficiency in your care home, call us on 0844 809 9186.
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