Tips to Improve Nutrition Status of People with Dementia
- 6 Months ago
As dementia progresses, people with dementia start forgetting to eat and drink. The situation is often complicated by issues like lack of dentures, taste, appetite and poor nutrition. Poor nutrition in turn is seen to cause weight loss, irritability, sleeplessness, bladder or bowel problems and disorientation in these people. Good nutrition will not only help them prevent weight loss but also improve their ability to cope with physical and behavioral problems, and improve their quality of life. Here are some tips to ensure them good nutrition:
• Offer them 5-6 small frequent meals, instead of three big meals.
• If a person with dementia struggles to use a spoon, then offer him nutritious finger foods.
• Lack of co-ordination often makes eating difficult and slow for a person with dementia. Pressurizing him to finish his meal quickly may make him leave the meal unfinished. Make sure you give him enough time to finish his meal.
• Dehydration tends to worsen confusion and cause constipation and dizziness in a person with dementia. Make sure the person drinks enough water throughout the day. Place a cup of water in the persons hand and guide him to drink water. If holding the glass is difficult, then give him a straw or a sipping cup, to help him drink water.
• If the person has difficulty in chewing or swallowing food then refer him to a speech therapist, who will suggest strategies to help him eat food easily.
• If he is losing too much weight, then refer him to a dietitian for dietary assessment and advice.
• A person with dementia may struggle to convey his food choice. Make an image of the food or meal to help him make a choice; this will also help you remind him about the food choice he made.
• If the person has dentures or has trouble chewing food, then give him soft food or cut the food in to small bite- sized pieces.
• If chewing or swallowing is seriously difficult, then gently move the person's chin in a chewing motion or lightly stroke his throat to encourage swallowing.
• Minimize distractions while eating food. Turn off the television or radio and eliminate the unneeded items from the table.
• Improve his appetite by including appealing foods that have familiar flavors, varied texture and color in his diet.
• Maintain a familiar environment and routine, but at the same time be flexible and adapt to his changing needs.