Do you have trouble with your person living with dementia (PLWD) during mealtime?

There are many types of dementia; Alzheimer’s disease is the most prevalent. Dementia is ultimately brain failure. As the brain changes, a person’s skills and abilities regress.

The following are four changes you can expect as dementia progresses.

♠ Peripheral vision narrows with age. If you use your hands like a pair of binoculars, you can simulate the field of vision that a PLWD in the early stages may experience. PLWDs may not even be able to see the food on their plate due to this narrowed field of vision.

Fine motor skills diminish over time. This is most prevalent in the middle stages of dementia. Fine motor skills in the hands, feet and mouth are gradually affected by this disease. That is why you may see PLWDs pick up food with their fingers instead of using a utensil. They may also have increased difficulty swallowing food or liquids. If your PLWD is coughing while eating or drinking, consider modifying the consistency of their food and beverages.

♠ Recognition of object linked to purpose diminishes. The PLWD may experience increased confusion and misuse common objects. For example, a PLWD might use a hairbrush to brush his or her teeth rather than their hair. As care partners, we can help our PLWD by using the hand-underhand technique to get them started on a task. Often, the PLWD is able to continue an action after having help starting it.

♠ Challenging behaviors will escalate. As a person goes through the various stages of dementia, he or she may become hypersensitive to touch. It is important to remember that with every interaction, the PLWD is reacting to the way that we approach them. Therefore, care partners need to always approach from the front and use more visual gestures to communicate. If PLWDs feel like you are threatening them, they may react with a fight, flight or fright reaction. If you notice one of these three behaviors, it will be beneficial to back off and rethink your approach.

Caregiver Education & Consultation
Mapuana Taamu, Certified PAC Trainer
808-469-5330 |
Learn more about dementia at our upcoming 2020 workshops. Contact Hawaii Memory Friends LLC for details.