People with Alzheimer’s should follow a healthy, well-balanced, and nutritious diet consistent with their age. If other medical conditions, e.g., diabetes, also exist, specific modifications to the diet should be made.
Alzheimer’s complications change a person’s eating behavior and habits. These changes can adversely impact the nutritional status, health, and well-being of your loved ones. Assisted living care in Bloomfield Hills can help people with Alzheimer’s have healthy and adequate nutrition.
Nutrition Of Alzheimer’s Patients
The foundation of healthy nutrition for Alzheimer’s in assisted living in Bloomfield Hills is a balanced diet with various food items from all five major groups: vegetables, fruits, grains, dairy, and protein.
Many dieticians recommend the Mediterranean diet. This diet emphasizes whole grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, seeds, and spices. This regimen is known to be effective in reducing the risk of Alzheimer’s and other age-associated diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.
Importance Of Proteins
People lose muscle mass as they age. Loss of appetite in Alzheimer’s worsens this condition. Therefore, adequate protein should be added to their diet. Food items such as seafood, low-fat dairy, and beans are good protein sources. In addition to protein, these foods provide other necessary nutritional requirements for people with Alzheimer’s, such as vitamins D and B12, calcium, and fiber.
Vitamin D & Calcium
Vitamin D’s diverse functions and importance for all age groups, particularly the elderly, are increasingly recognized. According to a recent study ”vitamin D may prevent Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, but more study is needed to understand this link”. In addition, as is well-known, vitamin D and calcium protect bones among seniors. Low-fat dairy is an excellent source of these substances. Oily fish, such as salmon, and eggs are other sources of vitamin D.
With advancing age, a person can absorb vitamin B12 from food diminishes. This vital substance is present in foods such as lean meat and fish. Existing evidence points to the importance of providing sufficient vitamin B12 to people with Alzheimer’s.
The thirst sensation declines with advancing age. In Alzheimer’s, this decline is compounded by forgetfulness and lack of concentration. Therefore, people with Alzheimer’s may not drink enough liquids to stay hydrated. Dehydration can result in confusion and physical complications such as urinary tract infection and constipation. They should be offered liquids throughout the day. Foods with high water content, such as soups and fruits, should be emphasized in the meal plan.
Low Sugar, Low Salt
Refined sugars and salt are the usual suspects in many illnesses. Recent research has implicated both these substances in the occurrence and progression of Alzheimer’s. Researchers have found a link between sugary drink intake and the risk of Alzheimer’s. Another study revealed that high salt levels in diets caused changes similar to Alzheimer’s in rat brains. These findings re-emphasize the importance of cutting on salt and sugar in the diets of people with Alzheimer’s.
Eating Challenges Of Alzheimer’s Patients
The normal aging process is associated with some changes in eating habits and behavior. Changes occur with age in teeth and gums, and people may need to use dentures as they grow older. Consequently, eating may become uncomfortable. Moreover, senses of taste and smell are diminished with age. This change influences one’s food choices or blunt appetite.
In addition to general changes seen with aging, people with Alzheimer’s experience specific alterations in eating habits related to declining function as the disease progresses. People with Alzheimer’s tend to forget things. They may forget mealtimes and miss meals. People who live alone may have difficulty cooking and preparing food. As Alzheimer’s advances, people may experience more challenges regarding eating and nutrition.
Tips To Improve Eating
A friendly and comfortable eating experience can be created for people with Alzheimer’s by employing effective measures. Such an environment encourages people to eat nutritious and healthy meals.
People with Alzheimer’s should be offered a choice about their food and eating within reasonable limits. Within these limits, they can select the food items they want to eat and drink and decide when and how much they eat; for example, some people may prefer to eat more for lunch and less for dinner. Such measures give the individual a sense of independence and being in control of their life.
If possible, people with Alzheimer’s should be involved in meal preparation. They can perform light tasks, such as helping with setting the table, in a safe environment.
Support During Eating
People with Alzheimer’s should receive psychological support and understanding to not feel embarrassed at the table because of their physical limitations or disabilities. They should be helped to eat if they need it.
Sufficient Eating Time
People with Alzheimer’s should not be rushed while eating. They should have ample time for their meals. If a person stops eating, it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re finished. They may have lost their concentration or be tired.
Every attempt should be made to turn eating into an enjoyable, fun, and friendly experience. People eat together and can choose where to sit to eat. Talking about pleasant topics, such as hobbies and beautiful memories, is actively encouraged. The eating area is neat and friendly, and clutter and distractions are removed. Playing soft, evocative background music helps people with Alzheimer’s enjoy their meals.
Physical Comfort While Eating
Physical comfort during eating is essential. The eating area should be well lit. Solid colors should be used, and confusing patterns should be avoided. Tablecloths and tableware should be of different, easily recognizable colors. Plates and utensils should be chosen that are easy to manage and use.
Food should be cut to manageable sizes/pieces that are easy to pick up. Practical options include finger foods, sandwiches, chicken nuggets, fish sticks, pieces of steamed cauliflower or broccoli, and sliced-up oranges.
Controlled Food Temperature
Food items should not be too hot when served. The temperature of both foods and drinks should be regulated to ensure a pleasant eating experience.
Loss of appetite is a common challenge in people with Alzheimer’s. Trying a wide selection of foods can help in this situation. In addition, variety in the color and aroma of the food items may help stimulate appetite. Herbs and spices add flavor to food and have beneficial properties.
Consult with a Specialist in Assisted Living Care for Alzheimer’s
People with Alzheimer’s have special nutritional needs and face eating challenges. These needs and challenges are both recognized and appropriately addressed in assisted living facilities in Bloomfield Hills.