Regular, nutritious meals may become a challenge for people with dementia. As a person’s cognitive function declines, he or she may become overwhelmed with too many food choices, forget to eat, or have difficulty with eating utensils. Proper nutrition is very important to keep the body strong and healthy. For a person who has Alzheimer’s or dementia, poor nutrition may increase their behavioral symptoms and cause weight loss. Here are some nutrition tips that can help boost the person with dementia’s health, and if you are a caregiver, your health too:
- Provide a balanced diet with a variety of foods: Offer vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods.
- Limit foods with high saturated fat and cholesterol: Some fat is essential for health, but not all fats are equal. Try to go light on fats such as butter, lard and fatty cuts of meats.
- Cut down on refined sugars: Refined sugars are often found in processed foods and contain calories but lack vitamins, minerals and fiber. Healthy options are fruit or juice-sweetened baked goods. But do keep in mind that in the later-stages of Alzheimer’s, if loss of appetite is a problem, adding sugar to foods may help build the appetite.
- Limit foods with high sodium and use less salt: Most people in the U.S. consume too much sodium, which affects blood pressure. Cut down on its intake by using spices or herbs to season food as an alternative.
- Encourage Fluids: Staying hydrated can be a problem as well. Encourage your loved one with Alzheimer’s to drink 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.