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Nutrition and Alzheimer’s/Dementia
A balanced diet is important to keep your body strong and healthy. For a person with Alzheimer’s Disease or another type of dementia, nutrition is just as important, if not more so. Poor nutrition may increase behavior symptoms or cause unwanted weight loss in a person living with Alzheimer’s.
Be sure to provide a variety of foods, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, low fat dairy products and lean protein. Limit foods with high saturated fats and cholesterol, for example butter, solid shortening, lard and fatty meats. Cut down on refined sugar (substitute a piece of fruit), and limit caffeine. If weight loss is a problem, add items such as Carnation Instant Breakfast made with whole milk. Add a little chocolate syrup for a great milkshake!
Keep meal times and table settings simple. Make sure food, dishes and table coverings have contrasting colors. Eliminate distractions such as music, television and too much conversation. Serving one item at a time may prevent confusion when too many items are on the plate. You may also give finger food - food they can just hold in their hand and eat – especially if the person will not sit for a meal. Good examples of nutritious finger foods include sandwiches, pita rolls with meat and cheese, and peanut butter crackers. Be generous with snacks.
It is important for your loved one to have meat or another good protein and vegetables and a routine for eating. Sit and eat with them whenever possible. Watching you reminds them what they need to do. Above all, be patient and don’t rush. I personally feel that love goes a long way!
Valerie Terry CDM, CFPP
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