A common challenge Alzheimer’s caregivers face is getting their loved one to eat. Alzheimer’s can lead to an unhealthy amount of weight loss. There are steps you can take to make mealtimes go a little smoother. Creating a calm, distraction-free environment is one. So is setting the table with dinnerware and placemats in contrasting colors to make food easier to distinguish on the plate.
Another technique that may encourage a senior to eat more is serving healthy finger foods. They don’t require silverware that older adults may have difficulty manipulating. Finger foods are also easier to independently consume, even while wandering around the house.
We’ve assembled a variety of recipes to help you get started.
Guide to Healthy Finger Foods for Seniors with Alzheimer’s
Keeping meals healthy but simple and limiting the number of foods on the plate is better for seniors with Alzheimer’s. These choices for breakfast, lunch, and dinner fit that description.
- Whole grain toast with peanut butter
- French toast sticks
- Yogurt or cereal bar
- Hard-boiled egg
- Sausage links or patties
- English muffin topped with an egg, cheese, or ham slice
While technically not a finger food, fruit smoothies are another good choice. You can make them with yogurt, pureed fruit, and a scoop of protein powder for an extra boost.
Options for Lunch or Dinner:
- Chicken tenders: This is easy to prepare as grocery stores offer a variety of ready-made options. Most only need to be heated up before serving. Opt for grilled or baked tenders instead of fried. You can serve them with a dip, like ranch or honey mustard, for extra flavor.
- Cup of soup: Another idea is to serve your senior loved one soup in a covered mug. They can sip it at their leisure from wherever they wander during mealtime. You can buy pre-made bone broth if you don’t have time to make your own. Bone broth is packed with nutrients and vitamins. “20 Delicious (and Wholesome) Bone Broth Soup Recipes” has some great options.
- Small sandwiches: Another idea is to make a sandwich and cut it into smaller pieces. Turkey with bacon and cheese, chicken salad with fresh pineapple bits, grilled cheese, and tuna salad all have protein and other essential vitamins and minerals. Add fiber by serving it on multigrain bread with lettuce.
- Antipasto: Make your own antipasto salad with cheese, meats, tomatoes, red pepper, garbanzo beans, and more. Add anything the senior likes and can pick up to eat on their own. Drizzle it with lemon vinaigrette for a bump in taste.
- Sliced fruit and vegetables: Keep a plate of fresh fruits and vegetables out for your loved one to eat at mealtime or as a snack. Be cautious of foods known for presenting a choking hazard, such as carrots or grapes. Serving foods in a rainbow of colors is not only good for their health, but also more visually appealing. That could entice them to eat more.
We hope this information gives you some meal ideas for your senior loved one. If you are looking for more ways to encourage your loved one to participate at mealtime, “What to Do When a Senior with Alzheimer’s Won’t Eat” might be of interest.
Specialized Dementia Care at Heritage Senior Communities
If you’ve been contemplating dementia care for your loved one and you live in Michigan or Indiana, we hope you will consider a Heritage community. Our specialized memory care program is designed to meet the unique needs of each resident. Call us today to learn more!
2020 has been quite a year! From political drama to the COVID-19 pandemic, we are a nation struggling to manage stress. News reports show negative behaviors, such as drug and alcohol abuse, are on the rise. When you are caring for a loved one with declining health, the days can be even more tumultuous. Finding productive ways to manage caregiver stress is essential, especially when you are a caregiver.
As we head toward a new year, it’s a good time to learn more about caregiver stress and explore positive ways to reduce it.
Warning Signs of Caregiver Stress
According to the Family Caregiver Alliance, more adults are stepping into the caregiver role. As the average age of our population continues to rise, the number of family caregivers climbs with it. In fact, nearly 39.8 million adults in this country are caregivers for a friend or family member. That equates to almost 16% of the adult population.
An unfortunate consequence is caregivers are more likely to suffer a medical crisis of their own. Oftentimes, it is because they miss the warning signs of burnout. If you are a caregiver, review these common signals that indicate you need to make changes:
- Overwhelming anxiety
- Unintended weight gain or loss
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Stomachaches or other digestive problems
- Change in personality or disposition
- Fatigue that doesn’t improve with quality sleep
- Quick to anger or tearfulness
- Backaches and headaches
- Developing or escalating unhealthy habits (i.e., smoking or drinking)
- Losing touch with family, friends, social groups, and favorite hobbies
If these symptoms describe your current situation, it’s likely time to schedule an appointment with your primary care physician. They can perform a physical examination to assess your physical and mental well-being and offer suggestions for getting healthy.
Preventing and Managing Caregiver Stress
If you haven’t reached the point of caregiver burnout but know you need to make changes, these tips can help.
- Practice mindfulness: Science shows meditation, yoga, or similar activities that focus on good breathing and mindfulness can help you manage stress and anxiety. Taking even ten minutes to perform chair yoga or meditate can help you maintain better health. Apps like Calm and 10% Happier make it easier to meditate or practice yoga on the go.
- Eat well: Eating healthy usually takes more time than relying on convenience or fast foods. For busy caregivers, preparing healthy meals often seems impossible. Even grocery shopping can be a challenge. A home-delivered meal service, like Hello Fresh, Blue Apron, or Freshly, might be a solution. Another option is to sign up for a local grocery store’s home delivery program or a national service, like Shipt. These options will save you time and provide fresh, healthy foods on a regular basis.
- Exercise: When you are tired and busy, exercise might not be a priority. However, engaging in a regular fitness program can actually improve your energy level and promote better sleep. While physicians usually recommend thirty minutes of exercise a day, you can break it up into smaller blocks. For example, begin your day with ten minutes of Pilates or yoga, take a brisk, ten-minute walk at lunch, and finish the day with ten minutes of resistance bands or stretching.
- Say “no”: Setting realistic expectations is important for all of us, but especially for caregivers. Give yourself permission to say “no” to activities you don’t have time for right now. Whether it’s coordinating a fundraiser at your church or synagogue or organizing the class reunion, remind yourself it’s okay to say “no” and focus on your family.
- Talk about or journal your feelings: Getting your feelings out can help you work through difficulties. Some people find it helpful to join an online caregiver support group. Others say journaling before bed helps them work through the emotional and physical demands of the day.
- Explore assisted living: If caregiver stress is putting your own health at risk, it might be time to consider assisted living. These communities allow residents to enjoy their best quality of life. From medication management programs to an environment designed with safety in mind, it’s worth exploring.
Bookmark the Heritage Blog
If you are a caregiver looking for ways to manage this demanding role, we encourage you to bookmark and visit this blog often. It’s an easy way to stay on top of trends and new research on aging, dementia, caregiving, and senior living.
The holidays can be tough if you have type 2 diabetes. Sticking to a well-balanced diet isn’t easy when tasty treats abound. Some people find it difficult to get enough physical activity when the weather or COVID-19 concerns keep them stuck inside. However, diet and exercise are vital to managing diabetes.
Health professionals say planning is the key to enjoying the holidays without putting your health at risk. We are sharing a few suggestions to help you get started.
Managing Type 2 Diabetes during the Holidays
With so many temptations, it takes more than self-control to manage diabetes. Here are a few ways you can adjust your daily routine to stay safe during the holiday season:
- Exercise in the morning.
This is a good strategy any time of year, but especially during the holidays. If you are busy shopping, wrapping gifts, and baking, you might be tempted to skip your work out. But as anyone with diabetes knows, exercise is an important part of maintaining your health.
Walking, riding a recumbent bike, and practicing yoga or Tai Chi can all be done in the comfort of your own home. Resistance bands are another inexpensive tool that can help you maintain muscles and core strength. “Exploring Senior-Friendly Forms of Exercise” has more fitness suggestions for older adults to explore.
- Monitor your health.
Most diabetics know it’s vital to continue checking their glucose as directed by their physician during the holidays. What some may skip is stepping on the scale. It’s easy for extra pounds to creep up when you are overindulging and not exercising as much. For adults with diabetes, maintaining a healthy weight is essential. Take time to weigh yourself weekly before a few pounds turn into more.
Also be sure to monitor your blood pressure as per your physician’s recommendations. Salty foods and alcoholic beverages often served at holiday parties can cause your blood pressure to spike.
- Plan your meals ahead of time.
No one wants to miss out on holiday goodies, but moderation is key. That’s why mapping out your food choices for the day and week ahead is important during the holiday season. If you know you’ll be attending a holiday luncheon on Wednesday, for example, eat a healthy breakfast and dinner that day.
If you blow your diet at one party or during one meal, don’t use it as an excuse to give up your healthy lifestyle. Instead, forgive yourself for slipping and get back on track at the next meal.
- Make smart choices at holiday parties.
While many people are limiting how many holiday gatherings they attend this year because of COVID-19 worries, you’ll still want to be careful. Though you can’t control the menu at holiday parties and events, you can be mindful of making better, healthier choices.
- You’ve probably heard this before, but it’s worth repeating. Try to fill up on healthy foods before a holiday event. A plate of fresh vegetables, apple slices topped with peanut butter, or a cup of yogurt can help prevent you from overindulging at your party.
- Skip alcoholic beverages and opt for water with lemon instead. If you want an alcoholic beverage, choose dry wine or light beer. Avoid drinks with sugary mixers.
- For food, opt for fresh fruit, vegetables, turkey, chicken, and nuts. Skip fried foods and those covered in dips or sauces. Limit sweet treats to just a bite or two of your favorites.
We hope these tips help you have an enjoyable and safe holiday season!
Heritage Communities Accommodate Special Diets
At Heritage Senior Communities, our dining services teams happily accommodate the special dietary needs of residents. It’s part of The Heritage Difference that makes our family-owned company a leading provider of senior living services for over four generations. Call the community nearest you to learn more today!
My husband has been our only driver since my battle with colon cancer two years ago. However, I need suggestions for talking to him about hanging up his car keys for good too. I’ve seen plenty of news stories about older drivers who harm themselves or others in an accident, and I don’t want him to be one of them.
He is 84 years old and has a variety of health conditions. Some of his medications have tough side effects, including drowsiness and dizziness. My husband’s reflexes are slow and he just isn’t flexible enough to stay safe behind the wheel.
I’m not sure how to broach this subject with him. Any ideas would be greatly appreciated.
Margie in Midland, MI
Older Driver Safety Week Kicks Off
You’ve expressed a fear many spouses and adult children have. It can be a contentious topic for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is the perceived lack of alternate transportation options. Older adults often tell us that knowing they would be able to give up driving played a key role in deciding to move to a senior living community.
Your timing in asking this question is great! The first full week of December is designated as Older Driver Awareness Week each year. It gives me a good opportunity to shine the spotlight on safety and senior drivers.
As you mentioned, tackling the subject with a loved one isn’t easy. A few tips for talking with your husband include:
- Explore transportation options: Before you talk, explore alternative transportation options in your area. Having a list of choices ready to share with your husband may make him more willing to entertain the idea of giving up his keys.
- Ask how he feels: A good way to open the conversation might be to ask your husband how he feels about driving. You might be surprised to learn he is a little fearful about it. He might not have mentioned it before because he thinks the two of you have no other options. Once you agree it’s time for him to stop driving, you can work on a transportation plan together.
- Show him evidence: If your husband isn’t onboard with the idea of hanging up his car keys for good, be prepared to kindly and gently share your concerns about his fitness for driving. Point out any bumps and dents on the car. He might not even know they are there and it could be a wake-up call. Also talk to him about the medication side effects you are noticing.
- Enlist his physician: There are other steps you can take if your husband won’t agree to stop driving. One is to visit his primary care physician together and seek his or her advice. The doctor can perform a physical, including checking his reflexes and flexibility, and objectively review the situation.
I hope these tips make this discussion go a little easier, Margie!
Heritage Senior Communities Offer Transportation
Transportation is one of the most popular services at Heritage Senior Communities. Depending upon current COVID-19 conditions, residents can utilize transportation for physician appointments, lunch outings, shopping trips, and more. Call the Heritage community closest to you to learn more!