One of the early signs that a loved one has dementia is poor food choices. You may notice that your mother forgets to eat meals and is losing weight, or that she eats cereal at night. In other instances, she may show poor nutritional control, eating cookies for lunch instead of a healthy meal. Nutrition is incredibly important at every stage of life, and especially for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. Poor nutrition can exacerbate existing health problems (like diabetes or high cholesterol). It can also affect mood and make dementia symptoms more severe. So, what is the best diet for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia? Let’s dive into that question.
Focus on a Balanced Diet
The truth is that there is no special, magical diet just for someone with Alzheimer’s. The best diet for your loved one is the diet you should probably be eating yourself! According to the Alzheimer’s Association, focus on cooking healthy, balanced meals for your loved one.
These meals should include regular servings of:
– Whole grains
– Lean proteins
– Low-fat dairy
Consider making eggs for breakfast or oatmeal and low-fat yogurt. A turkey sandwich on whole-grain bread would be perfect for lunch. For dinner, pair a hearty salad with chicken and a side of steamed broccoli with seasoning added. Dessert doesn’t have to be eliminated from the menu as long as you keep the serving size small.
Avoid Processed Foods, Fried Foods, and Fatty Meats
Processed foods are filled with salt and sugar that can spike blood sugar and then send it spiraling down. This can affect your loved one’s mood. This type of food also isn’t good for ideal heart health, brain health, and digestive functioning.
The same goes for fried foods and fatty meats. These foods contain lots of bad fat that can clog arteries and create digestive troubles.
As always, moderation is the key. It’s not the end of the world if you want to take your mom out to her favorite fast food restaurant as a special treat or serve marbled steak for a family celebration. The key is to treat these meals as special events and try to introduce healthier foods as often as possible.
It’s easy for someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia to forget to drink enough water during the day. Hydration is a key part of nutrition. Poor hydration can cause your loved one to become irritable, suffer from poor digestion, and even get headaches.
Include a glass of water with every meal and encourage your loved one to drink up. Make sure water is available and easily accessible throughout the day. If you go on an excursion, bring a bottle of water with you!
Preparing Meals for Your Loved One
Sometimes how you present and serve the meal is just as important as the meal itself. If your loved one is in the middle stages of Alzheimer’s, consider creating meals that are easy to eat. You may want to make more finger food, cut food into small pieces, or serve soft food. Apple sauce is an excellent snack! Soup can also make a great lunch or dinner meal.
If you can, take the time to sit down and eat with your loved one. This will make meal times enjoyable and may encourage your loved one to eat more. Some people with Alzheimer’s develop a low appetite, so encouraging them to eat a sufficient amount of food is important. Certain medications can also suppress the appetite.
Making Food Together
One way to help your loved one get more excited about eating a healthy meal is to invite them to help you prepare it. It’s probably a good idea to handle stove work yourself, as well as chopping and dicing duties, but there is still much that your loved one can do, like washing fruit, peeling carrots, and setting out the dishes.
There Is No Diet That Will Reverse Dementia
Some exciting new research has shown that the MIND diet may be able to help people ward off Alzheimer’s and dementia as they age. However, no diet has been proven to reverse the affects of dementia and Alzheimer’s. It doesn’t take much searching online to find so-called experts who claim that “this” or “that” diet will reverse dementia. Take these claims with a grain of salt and focus on providing nutritional meals to keep your loved one healthy and energetic.
At Sunshine Care, we take great pride in our meal program. Much of what our residents eat comes from gardens on our property that they help plant and cultivate. We strive to serve delicious and nutritious balanced meals each day, filled with fresh, organic ingredients that our residents love.
If you live in San Diego County, you can learn more about our meal plan and to see our gardens up close by scheduling a tour of our facility
Categories: Memory Care