The role of nutrition in dementia care – why is proper nutrition important?

Nutrition plays a crucial role in dementia care for several reasons. Proper nutrition is essential in dementia care to maintain cognitive function, prevent malnutrition and dehydration, and improve overall quality of life.

 

Firstly, people with dementia may have difficulty eating or preparing meals for themselves due to cognitive and physical impairments. This can lead to malnutrition and dehydration, which can worsen cognitive function and overall health.

 

 

People with dementia may experience changes in their taste and appetite, which can make it challenging to ensure that they are receiving adequate nutrition. So it’s really important to offer a variety of nutrient-dense foods that are appealing and easy to eat.

 

In addition to providing proper nutrition, caregivers can also implement ways to promote healthy eating habits in people with dementia such as creating a routine for meals, offering small and frequent meals throughout the day, and providing assistance with eating if needed.

 

Here, we have explained a few ways in which you can provide proper nutrition for your loved ones:

 

A balanced and varied diet:

 

The first and most important thing to consider while looking after nutrition is the diet. The diet should be balanced with healthy foods, rich in vital macros, vitamins, and minerals to promote overall health. 

 

Try to include a wide variety of fresh fruits and vegetables while avoiding excessive processed foods. It is important that people living with dementia eat whole and healthy foods that help strengthen their immune system and maintain overall health and well-being.

 

Easy-to-eat foods to encourage independence: 

 

While you should avoid feeding or fussing over food, it is good to provide people with easy-to-eat foods that they can eat independently. Some examples are sandwiches, fish sticks and cut-up fruits which they can easily pick up and eat without needing assistance. 

Such foods make mealtimes easier and less stressful.

 

At The Beeches, our chefs take great care and consideration while preparing fresh, healthy, and delicious meals for all our residents.

 

Having patience during mealtimes:

 

Mealtimes can get stressful but it is important to be patient so that the person can get the proper nutrition they need. Allow them plenty of time to eat at their pace and assist only if necessary. 

 

Limiting distractions and helping them focus on the food:

 

If possible limit distractions such as loud television noises or phones around the table during mealtimes. These can distract and even overwhelm someone with dementia and they may lose focus from the food. Instead, encourage them to eat independently and focus on the food they are eating.

 

Making meals a social experience:

 

Instead of watching a television show during meals, encourage them to sit with others, family members or friends while eating. By making meals a social experience, you can help them enjoy and look forward to meals.

Assisting with eating routines and habits:

 

People living with dementia have trouble following routines and planning their day. They may even forget to eat or forget that they have already eaten. As a caregiver, you can assist them with following a proper schedule and eating habits that will keep them healthy.

At The Beeches, we recognise that nutrition is an important aspect of our residents’ health and wellbeing. To ensure that they are getting proper nutrition, our staff help out and assist residents during mealtimes and also arrange group meals to make mealtimes enjoyable.

The Alzheimer’s Society has emphasised the importance of nutrition while providing care. You can find more advice on nutrition on their website: https://www.alz.org/help-support/caregiving/daily-care/food-eating.

For more information about the services we provide at The Beeches, please feel free to contact us by calling us at  01359 230773 or send us an email at info@thebeeches-ixworth.co.uk

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