Nutrition experts say there is no specialized diet for loved one’s living with Alzheimer’s disease or other forms of dementia, says Lonette Bentley, Executive Director at Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola, the beautiful new memory care community opening this December in Pensacola, Florida.
“However, they do advise that good nutrition is very important to the physical and emotional health of people with dementia. And poor nutrition, they say, can actually worsen symptoms of dementia, such as anxiety, agitation and apathy.”
7 Valuable Nutrition Tips for Your Loved One with Dementia
Authorities in dementia care and nutrition including the Alzheimer’s Association and the Mayo Clinic recommend the following useful tips that can benefit your loved one’s overall health and well-being:
- Offer a balanced yet varied diet – Offer vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods for good nutrition.
- Cut back on foods that are high in cholesterol and saturated fat – Some fat is essential for health – but not all fats are equal. Go light on fats that are bad for heart health, such as butter, solid shortening, lard and fatty cuts of meats.
- Reduce the intake of foods high in sodium and use less salt –Most people in the United States consume too much sodium, which affects blood pressure. Cut down by using spices or herbs to season food as an alternative.
- Provide plenty of fluids to keep your loved one hydrated – Staying hydrated can be a problem. Proper hydration is also part of good nutrition. Encourage fluids by offering small cups of water or other liquids throughout the day or foods with high water content, such as fruit, soups, milkshakes and smoothies.
- Limit the use of refined sugars –Refined sugars, often found in processed foods, contain calories but lack vitamins, minerals and fiber. You can satisfy your loved one’s sweet tooth with healthier options like fruit or juice-sweetened baked goods. Note, however, that in the later-stages of Alzheimer's, if loss of appetite is a problem, adding sugar to foods may encourage eating.
- Allow plenty of time for meals – Remind your loved one to chew and swallow carefully. Keep in mind that it may take them an hour or longer to finish eating, but it is important for proper nutrition.
- Eat together for socialization – Make meals an enjoyable social event so everyone looks forward to the experience. Research suggests that people eat better when they are in the company of others.
Dealing with Eating Problems Common to Dementia
Lonette adds, “While these tips are very useful for keeping your loved one with dementia on a nutritious diet, there are some related issues you should be aware of for your loved one’s comfort and well-being. As noted in the article “How to Eat Well with Alzheimer's Disease” and similar articles,there are somecommon problems associated with dementia and nutrition that require your attention.”
Constipation –Some medications for dementia can cause constipation. It can also happen if someone doesn’t eat or drink enough. Make sure your loved one:
- Gets plenty of fruits, vegetables and whole grains in their diet. These are great sources of fiber, which can help curb constipation.
- Drinks enough water and other fluids.
- Stays active. Exercise can help get things moving in the bathroom, too.
Dry Mouth and Dehydration – Persons with Alzheimer’s may not drink enough fluids because their body's signal for thirst isn’t as strong. Medications can sometimes dry out their mouth, as well. Remind your loved one to drink liquids, and try other ways to avoid dry mouth:
- Dunk breads, toast, cookies or crackers in milk, hot chocolate or tea to soften them.
- Remind them to take a drink after each bite of food to moisten their mouth and help them swallow.
- Add broth or sauces to foods to make them softer and wetter.
- Offer sour candy or fruit ice to help their mouth make more saliva.
Weight Loss –People with Alzheimer’s might feel less hungry or thirsty, have problems chewing or swallowing, and have trouble using utensils and feeding themselves. This raises their chances of weight loss. To help your loved one maintain their weight and get proper nutrition:
- Offer smaller meals or snacks more often. Eating five or six times a day may be easier than getting the same amount of food in three meals.
- Give them a daily multivitamin to support nutrition.
- Prepare things that are easy to eat, e.g., bite-sized finger foods such as chicken nuggets.
- Use utensils or dishes that are easier to handle such as a spoon and bowl, respectively.
You’ll Find a Nutritious, Socialized Dining Experience at Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola
“Because social engagement is important to loved ones with dementia, dining at Clarity Pointe is quite a social event,” says Lonette. “Healthy, nutritious meals are served family-style in the neighborhood dining area to create a real feel of home. Our care staff not only serves the meals, they also sit and dine with our residents. We view mealtimes as ideal opportunities for our residents and staff to gather together, enjoy one another’s company and feel the warmth of friendship. And, if necessary, our care staff provides cueing for successful dining and nutrition.
“Because we are a specialized, single-purpose memory care community, we provide customized dining programs that are appropriate for loved ones at various stages of dementia. This enables the dining experience to be comfortable and enjoyable for everyone.”
Serving Caregivers and Families with Valuable Memory Care Information and Support
At Clarity Pointe™ Pensacola, we offer more than exceptional memory care for loved ones with dementia. We are also a memory care resource for families. As we prepare for our grand opening this December, we invite you to visit our developing website for more updates and information.
You can also view Clarity Pointe’s memory care articles and tips for at-home caregivers and families on a variety of helpful topics that you can use today.
Clarity Pointe … Our Difference is Clear
Clarity Pointe’s Specialized Memory Care “Living” Neighborhoods are truly changing lives for those with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias – and for those who love them. At Clarity Pointe, our mission is to ensure our residents lead connected and rewarding lives.
Unlike other providers that offer a secure memory care wing in a skilled nursing or assisted living center, Clarity Pointe Pensacola offers three freestanding, purpose-built Memory Care communities that are solely and entirely dedicated to Memory Care Assisted Living. Our communities blend luxurious surroundings with specialized care that is individualized to each resident and delivered by a compassionate, expert team of professionals.
We stay current on the latest trends and advancements in Alzheimer’s care and implement them into our residents’ care plans. Always moving forward, we combine the latest in evidence-based programming with luxurious, residential living and compassionate respectful care.
For each of our residents, we offer a life that is engaging, fulfilling, inspiring and meaningful.