Dementia & Nutrition
By James Fairhurst
Maintaining a healthy weight can be a challenge for many people with dementia, so it is important they have nutritious meals and keep hydrated.
Some people with dementia lose their appetite but eating a healthy and balanced diet is important for a person’s physical and mental health. Not eating and drinking enough can increase the risk of dehydration and malnutrition.
Here’s a few tips on how to keep a healthy appetite for someone suffering from dementia.
Be flexible with mealtimes
An individual’s appetite will fluctuate daily and therefore you must be flexible with their mealtimes. Different people will have more of an appetite at certain times of the day, so make the most of the times when they do have an appetite.
Serve smaller portions, more frequently throughout the day
Some individuals will feel overwhelmed by the amount of food on a plate, so it is important that you don’t overload the plate with too much food. By serving small portions of food more frequently throughout the day, will encourage people with dementia to eat.
Some people with dementia will find it hard to pick up food using cutlery. Finger foods such as sandwiches, chips, sliced fruit etc. may help to increase their appetite.
Make sure that the food you provide looks appealing. Plenty of fruit and vegetables will not only provide a good source of vitamins but the colours look appealing. Using different tastes and smells will also stimulate their appetite.
Dehydration is a common challenge for individuals with dementia as they can easily forget to drink enough water. Make sure there is a glass of water within easy reach or put the water in a brightly coloured cup, so it draws their attention and reminds them to have a drink. If they are not keen on water, add flavoured squash to encourage them to drink more.
Some people may not be able to pick up a mug, so put a straw in their cup to help them.
Try different foods
During the different stages of dementia, an individual’s tastes preferences may change. Some people may like to mix sweet and savoury foods together. If this is the case, try adding sugar or honey in some savoury foods and try and cook new dishes as their taste changes.
People with dementia may have problems communicating, so it makes it hard to know when they are hungry, or they don’t like the food that has been served. It is important you look at their behaviour to see if they are enjoying their food. If they refuse to eat or hold food in their mouth; it is more than likely they don’t like the food.
Showing photos of food may help them decide what they would like to eat.
For more information about the care services we provide to people with dementia, visit https://crg.uk.com/homecare/client-services/