Living with dementia – importance of good nutrition
Shopping, cooking and enjoying a good meal are part of our everyday life and important to everybody, not least to people living with dementia. Poor nutrition and not eating enough is common among people with dementia, with weight loss increasing as the disease progresses.
The reasons why people with dementia lose weight are complex and linked to a number of factors including reduced appetite, swallowing problems, increased activity and, in the more advanced stages of the illness, cognitive and behavioural problems.
Whilst weight loss is a common problem, it can be avoided by:
- Encouraging eating to be viewed as a social activity
- Creating a relaxed, friendly atmosphere at mealtimes – music may help
- Providing regular snacks or small meals
- Serving half portions to keep food warm or use the microwave to reheat food
- Encouraging the person to get involved at mealtimes perhaps by preparing the food or setting the table
- If the person is having difficulties chewing or swallowing, try naturally soft food such as scrambled egg or stewed apple in the first instance, before considering pureed food
- If you do consider pureed food, seek advice from a dietitian or speech and language therapist to make sure it’s nutritious and remains flavoursome
- If the person goes into hospital ensure a ‘getting to know me’ form is completed with their likes and dislikes added
Visit the information stand in the Forth Valley Royal Hospital restaurant to find out more about the role of the Dietician and how we can all help improve nutritional care for everyone, including those with dementia.