For people with dementia, maintaining a healthy and balanced diet can be difficult. People often feel less like eating for a number of reasons. Food might not taste the same as it used to, or sometimes it can be physically hard to eat because of pain or reduced motor skills and coordination. Depression is also common, meaning that meal times and food lose their appeal.
When communication becomes difficult, the only way to express the fact that food is too hot, too cold, hard to eat, or just doesn’t taste right may be to leave it. And not eating or eating the wrong things could make a condition worse. While there is no conclusive proof, there is a growing body of evidence to say that a healthy diet, low in salt and saturated fats, and high in antioxidants and Omega-3s can help slow the onset of dementia.
Dementia and Nutrition
There are many things that can be done to encourage people with dementia to eat and drink more and the Alzheimer’s Society has some excellent information on its website. We use many of these techniques at Sherborne House, which specialises in dementia care.
Overall, we aim to reconnect people with the enjoyment of food and eating. Partly this is through the design of the eating environment so that mealtimes are calm and as free of distractions as possible. We also encourage residents to engage with their food by preparing healthy sandwiches and fruit salads and by baking cakes. These are fun, social activities that help to associate food with positive emotions and thoughts, rather than being a source of anxiety or conflict.
The positive culture around eating not only stimulates appetites, it helps residents feel more confident and in control of their lives. Discussions about food can also stimulate reminiscence and maintain sensory abilities.
On the one hand eating and drinking can be a challenging aspect of dementia care, but they can also be therapeutic and encourage greater engagement with other people and enjoyment of life.
Why not come and see for yourself what life at Sherborne House is like? Contact us today on 01305 300 161 to arrange a visit.