If you care for somebody with dementia or have a family member residing at a memory care assisted living facility, you may know the difficulty of ensuring that your loved one remains well-nourished. Often, patients with dementia have trouble maintaining adequate nutrition due to a change in appetite or simply because they may neglect to intake the nutrients they require. In honor of National Nutrition Month, the dining staff at Poet’s Walk would like to take the opportunity to provide simple nutrition tips for dementia patients, designed to improve the health of your loved one and remove any stress that may be associated with mealtime.
Dietary Tips for Caregivers of Dementia Patients
- Use the food pyramid as guidance for providing your loved one with a balanced diet. Fill their breakfasts, lunches, dinners, and snacks with plenty of whole grains, colorful produce, and lean proteins, such as chicken and turkey.
- As much as possible, reduce your loved one’s intake of foods that are high in “bad” cholesterol and saturated fats. Instead, incorporate healthy fats, such as the omega-3s found in salmon and walnuts, or monounsaturated fats, such as in olive oil and avocados.
- Though sweets can be helpful for encouraging your loved one to eat, it is important to cut back on refined sugars. Sweet fruits, such as strawberries, are a great alternative to typically high-sugar desserts.
- Ensure that your loved one remains hydrated by monitoring the amount of water they intake each day. To make plain water more appealing without sacrificing nutrition, add a few slices of fruit for natural sweetness.
- Keep table settings simple but inviting. A complex centerpiece may distract a person with dementia from the main task of eating.
- Meals, too, should be simple in their presentation. It may be best to serve one course at a time to avoid excess distractions.
- Many patients with dementia experience abrupt changes in meal preference. If this happens, it is important to go with the flow and serve them something they enjoy. Though it may be frustrating, don’t scold your loved ones for this unavoidable change.
- Some dementia patients have trouble recognizing drastic temperatures, which can lead to burns on the hands or tongue. Avoid this by testing the food’s temperature before serving.
- If your loved one is able, encourage him or her to help you cook simple meals. This can provide them with feelings of independence, an important part of maintaining dignity and fulfillment.
- In the later stages of Alzheimer’s, some patients experience a higher risk of choking or inhaling foods. Incorporate soft and easy to chew foods, served in tiny bite-size pieces.
Well-Balanced Dining at Poet’s Walk Assisted Living Facilities
Poet’s Walk specializes in providing excellence in care for seniors with dementia and we do all we can meet specific dietary requirements. In addition to tailored menus, each day our dining services serve balanced meals designed to maintain your loved ones’ health and happiness. This individualized approach makes Poet’s Walk’s a great choice for family members who care for their senior loved ones.