One of our current reseach focused on Alzheimer’s disease and how proper nutrition of the patients plays a significant role in their well-being. Regular meals are often a challenge for these people but also for all forms of dementia. Impairment of cognitive function is often associated with skipping meals or difficulty preparing food.
Basic tips for feeding an Alzheimer’s patient
It is important for patients to follow a balanced diet with a variety of foods. Healthy eating is good for both the heart and the brain.
In Leonia, we feed patients with vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein sources on a daily basis, and we limit foods rich in saturated fats. Moreover, we reduced refined sugars and foods high in sodium or salt.
We also often give our patients extra nutrition supplements rich in vitamins, such as C,D and E as well as food containing especially curcumin and avocado. Finally, our oil is always extra virgin olive oil. Also, instead of sugar we use honey and brown sugar.
Through our research we found out that hydration also plays significant role in patients’ health. Increased fluid intake by gradually drinking small glasses of water throughout the day or consuming water-rich foods such as fruits, soups, smoothies and milkshakes improved gradually patients’ welfare.
How to prepare meals for people with Alzheimer’s
As the disease progresses the distraction of concentration, changes the patients’ perception in taste and smell. That makes the feeding process even more difficult. In Leonia, we follow certain norms in feeding process in order to facilitate it. We serve meals in quiet environment, away from TV or other distractions.
Make the food stand out. Often people with dementia may find it difficult to distinguish food on the plate or the plate from the table. Use white plates and a placemat in a bright color to stand out. We serve only one or two foods at a time. Simplify it by serving one dish at a time. For example, mashed potatoes and meat as a side dish. Something else, that also matters in feeding process is to give the patient enough time to eat. Remind him or her to chew and swallow carefully. Keep in mind that it may take an hour or more to finish the meal.
In Leonia, we have incorporated the abovementioned on our patients’ daily nutrition process, and we have noticed worth mentioned positive results. All in all, our research in Nutrition and Alzheimer’s disease is in progress; therefore in the following months we will present further data with regards the patients’ diet.