How to Deal with Eating Problems in Alzheimer’s Disease Patients
When Alzheimer's disease develop, the patients can usually forget or refuse to eat, have some eating difficulties. The proper eating is very important in this case and if you take care of such patient, you should be responsible for healthy nutrition as well.
It is good to cook food that the patient can eat using hands, as the use of table items can be hard for the person suffering from Alzheimer's disease. Over time, the disease progresses and the person may lose the ability to swallow and chew own food. In this case, you need to feed the patient.
Not proper nutrition can lead to deterioration of overall health, including mental health, weight loss, reduced communication abilities, dehydration, infections, and stomach problems. In order to help the Alzheimer’s patients to follow healthy diet, it’s important to realize what can cause the eating problems in such case.
Common reasons why Alzheimer’s patients lose appetite and interest in eating
The causes of losing interest to eat are usually poor appetite, physical disability, and sensory impairments.
A poor appetite can appear because of numerous reasons like depression, communication problems (they can’t express when they are hungry), pain, tiredness, medication side effects, physical inactivity, and constipation. Other common reasons include:
- Not recognizing the food by patients (due to damage to the brain brought on by Alzheimer’s or due to vision problems.)
- Losing ability to concentrate
- Difficulties in using utensils or raising a glass
- Challenging to bring the food from the plate to their mouth
- Dysphagia (difficulty to swallow)
- losing the ability to gauge food temperature
- reduced feeling of thirst
Tips to boost appetite and interest in food in Alzheimers patients
- Make food to smell and look good
- Find additional time for eating ( for example, if person is awake at night, you may offer some snacks in this time)
- Give the patient food she/he likes
- Serve food in small pieces, so it’s easy to chew
- Try different types of foods and drinks, like a milkshake or smoothie
- Take care of food temperature
- Don’t stop a patient from eating dessert even if they haven’t finished their savory meal
- If a person suffer from swallowing, offer a soft food or liquid meals
- Involve the patient in food preparation
- If the patient refuses eating, try to propose later again
- Don’t remove food from the person just because they stopped eating – they may be temporarily distracted and will resume once again.
List of beneficial products in Alzheimer’s disease
The patient should get a lot of antioxidants in food. Thus, they kill the free radicals that are delivered with poor quality or harmful food, thereby preventing premature aging and tissue damage. To do this, use products containing B1, B6 and B12 , C, E vitamins, beta-carotene, selenium, zinc, coenzyme Q10 and niacin (B3). These nutrients are found in:
- oil-rich fish, lamb, beef, liver, chicken;
- egg yolks;
- dairy products;
- vegetable oils: olive, flaxseed;
- vegetables: cabbage (especially sauerkraut), olives, zucchini, tomatoes, corn, bell peppers, carrots, beets;
- fruits and berries: apricots, oranges, grapefruits, strawberries, sea buckthorn, grapes, avocados, apples, pomegranates, kiwi, black currant, melon;
- spices and greens: spinach, parsley, dill, thyme, basil, rosemary, oregano, horseradish;
- cereals: oatmeal, wheat, rice, barley, millet, buckwheat;
- pasta products;
- nuts and seeds;
- bread with bran and prepared from wheat flour;
- bee products: honey, pollen, propolis oil, Perge, royal jelly;
- dried fruits: prunes, raisins, dried apricots;
- water and fresh juices.
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