Balanced Diet and Alzheimer's Disease
The caregivers aim is to provide balanced diet that will maximize physical and mental health and promote wellbeing. Here's a few tips on how to do that.
A Balanced Diet. What's That?
A balanced diet is one that contains carbohydrates, fats, proteins, vitamins and minerals. A balanced diet will provide energy to maintain the body cells, tissues, and organs. A balanced diet supports normal growth and development and keeps you healthy. A healthy diet should contain 50% carbohydrate, 30% fat and 20% protein.
For more information on a balanced diet.
Alzheimer's, Behavior, Moods and Adequate Diet
Someone with Alzheimer's can have mood and behavioral changes that impact on their ability to take a good balanced diet. They may be highly distractible, talkative, apathetic, anxious, agitated or display wandering behavior that will all inhibit their ability to eat.
Responding to behaviors is not rocket science. It is often about:
The important thing is to encourage people with dementia such as Alzheimer's disease to eat and drink. Dietary supplements in the form of high protein drinks and food bars can be invaluable.
Physical Difficulties with Eating and Dementia
Changing diets to meet the individual's physical health needs is important. People in the different stages of Alzheimer's have different needs at different times.
In the final stages of Alzheimer's disease many people having difficulty opening their mouths, chewing food and with swallowing so a soft diet or a diet supplements may be helpful.
I have found one of the most common reasons for someone with Alzheimer's disease being reluctant to eat is constipation. Make sure bowel movements are regular, that the diet contains fruit and vegetable and that the person engages in regular exercise to prevent this common problem.
Providing Food that is Ethnically and Culturally Appropriate for People with Alzheimer's and Dementia
Do make sure you are offering a balanced diet that is culturally and ethnically suited to the person's needs. Offering meat to a vegan or vegetarian is not good. Muslims, Jewish people and people from other backgrounds require an diet that is prepared in an appropriate way.
The Importance of an Adequate Fluid Intake and Dementia
A good fluid intake that responds to seasonal changes is vital. The amounts of fluid we require depends on a number of factors, environmental heat, body temperature, state of health, amount of energy being used, to name a few them. Fluid intake should be about 1.5 liters each day (unless against a doctors advice).
Encouraging Independent Eating & Dignity with Alzheimer's Disease
Maintaining independence by encouraging the person with Alzheimer's to feed and drink themselves can take more time, but it is valuable in the long run and also helps maintain a person's individuality, independence and dignity.
Good Oral and Dental Care
If you get mouth infections from neglected care of the mouth, teeth and gums eating will become problematic. Disease, nutritional deficiencies and weight loss will result.
Article sources: Maria Parsons. 2001 Handbook of Dementia Care. Living at Home. Open University Press. Philadelphia.
Howard Gruetzner. 2001. Alzheimer's- A Caregiver's Guide and Sourcebook. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New York.
K.M. Heilman Ph.D., L.Doty, Ph.D.., J.T. Stewart, MD., D.Bowers Ph.D., L. Gonzalez-Rothi, Ph.D.. Helping People with Progressive Memory Disorders: A guide for You and Your Family. University of Florida Health Science Center.