According to the Alzheimer’s Association, approximately 44 million people worldwide are living with dementia. Of those, more than 747,000 are Canadians.
While many people associate Alzheimer’s disease with memory loss, moodiness and trouble communicating, you may not realize that dementia can also impact eating habits and nutrition.
Since negative effects on eating are possible, it’s important to take steps to ensure those with dementia get the nutrition they need. Our team of in-home care providers at Qualicare North York offers some insight into the topic.
Eating Healthy With Alzheimer’s Disease
Healthy eating is an important part of maintaining good health and avoiding many health conditions as we age. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, we have a few suggestion on how to ensure he or she is getting adequate nutrition:
First, fill your kitchen with fresh foods, including fruits, vegetables, lean protein and whole grains. Limit the number of unhealthy “snack” foods in the home, since they’re often packed with sugar, sodium and fat.
Also, consider buying foods that are easy to prepare at a moment’s notice, such as single-portioned foods, nutritional shakes and pre-made salads. That way if your loved one is hungry in between meals, you have healthy options ready to go!
Second, you also want to make sure you are keeping your loved one on a healthy eating routine. As dementia progresses, a person will easily get confused and uncomfortable about activities. That’s why a schedule and routine are so important.
Schedule in your loved one’s activities and stick (at least loosely) to the schedule each day—and that should include sitting down to eat around the same times every day.
Finally, get your loved one’s input on foods he or she enjoys eating. And consider that what he or she loved previously may not be a favorite now, since many aspects of a person’s personality can change as dementia progresses.
Don’t try to force healthy foods on your loved one just for the sake of good health. It may take some back-and-forth before you’re able to nail down a diet that’s both healthy and doable for you and your loved one.
Did you know that we offer specialized care for patients with dementia? Give our team at Qualicare North York a call to learn more.