Why Good Nutrition Is Essential For Your Loved One With Dementia

How a Healthy Diet Can Help Seniors with Dementia


As dementia progresses, it increasingly affects important body functions such as eating and drinking. Due to changes in the brain, a person with advanced dementia may not feel hungry or thirsty at all or may even forget to eat and drink. The loss of appetite leads to weight loss and muscle weakness, makes them more vulnerable to illnesses, and worsens their physical and mental state.

For families, it can be very difficult to watch their loved one lose interest in food and drink. Fortunately, many memory care facilities implement proper nutrition to encourage appetite and help boost the person with dementia’s health.

So, what are the benefits of a healthy diet for dementia patients? Let’s find out.

Slows Cognitive Decline

Cognitive impairment is one of the main reasons for sticking to a healthy diet for dementia patients. As the person enters into the middle and later stages of the disease, they may not be able to prepare nutritious meals for themselves. Family members can’t ensure that the nutritional needs of their loved one are always met. As a result, their cognitive capacity will eventually decrease.

Eating the right diet could help slow cognitive decline. For example, following the Mediterranean diet, which incorporates plenty of vegetables, whole grains, fish, and olive oil, can significantly reduce the risk of cognitive impairment in Alzheimer’s and dementia patients.

Provides Energy for Physical Activity

Poor nutrition often contributes to chronic fatigue, which makes people with dementia feel weak, sluggish, and sleepy most of the time. Certain foods, such as fast carbohydrates or saturated fats, can further worsen fatigue and wreak havoc on their energy levels.

The low energy levels and constant tiredness reduce their ability to perform physical activities and affect their overall health. In order to fuel exercise and work properly, the body requires energizing foods rich in protein, antioxidants, fiber, vitamins, and minerals. This kind of food is sure to provide sufficient energy to seniors with dementia, which can then be utilized in physical activity.

Reduces Some Dementia Symptoms

A person with Alzheimer’s or dementia will eventually experience behavioral changes (such as moodiness, aggressiveness, social withdrawal, and sleep disturbances). Poor nutrition may only worsen this type of behavior.

For people with dementia, their diet can affect how they experience the disease or its progression. Other underlying medical conditions resulting from improper nutrition, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and diabetes (which are, in turn, risk factors for dementia) will only heighten the disease’s ability to progress.

Since there is no cure for the disease, Alzheimer’s or dementia patients have to rely on careful nutrition to manage their symptoms. Particularly, there are two diets that can help relieve some of the symptoms of dementia (the Mediterranean diet and the MIND diet).

Boosts Mood & Behavior

A healthy, balanced diet has a big impact on a person’s mood, and even their level of happiness and optimism. On the other hand, eating too much highly processed or sugary food can increase the risk of developing depression and anxiety.

Studies suggest that nutritional deficiencies (including vitamin B12, B9, and zinc) can enhance dementia symptoms (such as low mood, fatigue, depression, cognitive decline, and irritability). In addition, microbes in the gut release neurotransmitters (such as serotonin and dopamine), which help control mood changes and emotions. This indicates that implementing healthy foods for dementia patients is crucial to keeping a healthy gut and overall mood and behavior.

Overcome Poor Appetite

Poor appetite is a common nutritional challenge for dementia patients. As the disease progresses, certain people may lose their appetite due to mood changes that influence how a person feels about food. Sometimes, they may refuse to eat due to pain or discomfort, which can make eating difficult. Others may no longer enjoy the food they used to eat or think they have already eaten.

There are many ways to encourage interest in healthy foods for dementia patients. One of them is offering eye-catching and colorful meals, such as bowls of chopped fruit or mixed vegetables. Including high-protein foods (such as meat, fish, or eggs) can also help dementia patients eat more.

Ensuring that the person living with dementia eats a nutritious meal will eventually become a challenge for families and carers. At Arbor Trace Memory Care Center in London, Ontario, we can help your loved ones get the nutrition they need. To maximize the nutrients your loved one consumes, we try to include a balanced and varied diet that helps maintain their overall health and well-being.

Contact us to schedule a tour for the Arbor Trace retirement community and find out how a healthy diet for dementia patients can help.

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