Why Is Nutrition So Important for People Living With Dementia?

A balanced, nutritious diet is essential for all of us. However, it can be of particular importance for people with dementia. Many people living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can struggle to maintain a healthy weight due to the many challenges associated with eating and drinking.

Below, you can learn why high-quality food and an overall balanced diet can be crucial for anyone who has received a dementia diagnosis.

Weight Loss

Weight loss is not a consequence of having dementia. It can happen when someone isn’t eating and drinking enough to remain nourished and healthy. Many people living with dementia experience weight loss because their skills, habits, and behaviors are changing as their dementia progresses.

They may no longer be able to use cutlery as they once could, limiting how much food they can consume in a sitting. Their tastes may also change, and foods they once loved are no longer desirable.

Fortunately, many highly regarded memory care communities prioritize nutrition to limit instances of weight loss. They monitor their residents’ weights and use nutritional screening tools to ensure they’re getting enough to eat and drink. They also implement culinary programs to ensure meal times are stress-free and frustration-free.  

Food Preferences Change

We rarely change our opinions about food we like and dislike. However, that can be the reality for people living with dementia. As their condition progresses, they may no longer like the food they once enjoyed and, instead, prefer foods they never showed any interest in before.

This can be an overwhelming adjustment for families trying to ensure their loved ones are getting enough to eat. Fortunately, most memory care communities know that food preferences change and have processes to manage them.

For example, they might discuss eating habits and preferences with families when they first welcome their loved ones into their care. Once they have a foundation to work from, they can record any changes. Senior living communities can also stay up-to-date with taste changes by offering visual menus for residents to choose meals rather than assuming they’ll like a particular meal or snack.  

Changing Routines

We are all unique in that we like eating particular foods at particular times and in specific environments. Changes in our eating habits can sometimes be hard to navigate.

People living with dementia are no different. They may be used to eating alone at a specific time in the comfort of their own home, only to now be eating in a shared environment at a different time. Such significant changes can be challenging to cope with.

Finding ways to manage such situations can be crucial for ensuring someone with dementia gets enough to eat. A slow transition into a new environment or trying to mimic their previous routine as much as possible can be two possible solutions.

Communication Challenges

People with dementia can struggle with finding the words to communicate that they’re hungry or thirsty. Not knowing how to ask for what they need, they must wait until food and beverages are offered.

That’s why many highly regarded senior living communities make snacks and drinks available 24/7. While they offer three set meals throughout the day, they also ensure other options are visible so that residents can easily communicate what they need to fulfill their nutritional requirements.

Learn More About Culinary Offerings at Ellery Arbor Memory Care

Nutrition is important for the overall health and well-being of anyone living with dementia. Contact Ellery Arbor Memory Care today to learn more about the culinary programs we have in place to manage the nutritional and dietary requirements of our residents. 

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