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All too many times overwhelmed caregivers are physically and emotionally depleted and need to take time to rest and care for themselves. Believing in a holistic approach to caregiver stress and a strong commitment to helping our members find the right solutions, we created this blog to help you connect with others who, like you, may be facing the same eldercare issues and challenges. Feel free to comment, ask questions, and submit articles. Please forward the blog link to your family and friends. They'll be glad you did.

Warm regards,

Patricia Grace
founder & CEO
Aging with Grace

Friday, August 19, 2011

How to get mom to eat...and other good tips!

"Growing up my favorite time of the year was summer",says Nataly Rubenstein, author of Alzheimer's disease and other dementias - The Caregivers Complete Survival Guide. Long lazy days spent fishing on the lake, outdoor grilling and enough corn on the cob and watermelon to fill the county fair.

Just thinking about the summer of my youth brings back fond food memories and my appetite increases.

For those of you who are caring for a person who has dementia one of the frequently asked questions I get is, “How do I get Mom to eat”? The obvious answer is serve food the person liked when they were growing up. You see, over time our taste buds and our food preferences changed. The foods we prefer later in life are not always food that we liked when we were younger.

I love blue cheese salad dressing now- but hated it growing up. Same with spinach. My mom who grew up during the Depression ate a lot of bologna sandwiches and swore them off later in life. Guess what food she loved in the late stage of dementia? If you guessed bologna, give yourself a star!

Reminiscing helps to connect the past with the present. I find it helpful to go through old photos and comment on the event and the food in the pictures. It makes for a great activity. Quick tip- try not to ask the person with dementia if they remember the event or the people or the food. They will feel bad if they can’t and if they could remember you wouldn’t be caring for them now would you!

Often times it’s not what we ask, but how we ask. Some of the tips below are just starting points. Use your imagination and expand on them.

• Ask them their favorite food from their childhood.
• The first food they ever cooked.
• Memories of backyard barbecues.
• What they brought for school lunch.
• Favorite Sunday breakfast.

You can also ask about the favorite soda or pop. Most towns had a F.W Woolworths or Rexall drug store that had a lunch counter. Going to one was a special treat and the “soda jerks” were really cute. (Here’s a nostalgic video of one such counter: http://youtu.be/XZMXV0bFz5o)

When I asked one of my clients who wouldn’t drink liquids what her favorite beverage was she said a root beer float. Imagine the daughter’s surprise when I brought one over at our next visit and she drank it down.

Follow some of my special tips for asking your loved one what foods they liked and you will literally have them eating out of your hands. I will be giving additional advice based on my personal experience as a caretaker and professional counselor in an upcoming radio interview with Aging with Grace – be sure to listen in! I look forward to taking your questions. I also offer colorful caretaker commentary and tips on my blog The Dementia Zone (http://blog.alzheimerscareconsultants.com/alzheimers-blog).

Nataly Rubinstein MSW., LCSW, C-ASWCM is a professionally licensed clinical social worker and a geriatric care manager certified. For over 24 years she was also a caregiver to a person with dementia. For several years she worked full time at the Wien Center a memory clinic at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach where over 1,000 clients with dementia were seen each year and has recently transitioned into private practice. She is also author of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias: The Caregiver’s Complete Survival Guide. Website for more info: http://alzheimerscareconsultants.com

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