Why nutrition is important for people with dementia

The type of food we consume is capable of affecting both our health and the quality of life we live. People who are poorly nourished are prone to get sick more often compared to individuals who consume a healthy diet on a daily basis. Poor nutrition has been identified as a major health issue among the elderly folk. People who suffer from dementia have a lot of challenges when it comes to maintaining a healthy diet. Some of the challenges they experience in terms of maintaining a healthy diet include but are not limited to:

  • They may experience a loss of appetite

  • They may develop an insatiable appetite for sweets

  • They may forget how to eat and drink

  • They may experience mouth discomfort or dry mouth

  • They are, at times, unable to recognize the drink or food they are given

  • They may forget how to chew food and swallow.

Why is nutrition important for people suffering from dementia?

People who suffer from dementia normally have a problem with eating and drinking. This is why most of them lose a considerable amount of weight as the condition progresses. People with dementia may become dehydrated in instances where they are unable to communicate their thirst or they are unable to realize that they are thirsty. This can lead to urinary tract infections, constipation, headaches and increased confusion.

A healthy, balanced diet is important for dementia patients. You can ensure that a dementia patient gets a healthy diet by providing him or her with nutritious meals and high calorie meals. Dieticians can assist in establishing the best nutritional meal a dementia patient should be put on.

Good nutrition is critical for the wellbeing, health and independence of people suffering from dementia. As dementia progresses, it is common to notice that a patient’s likes and dislikes for food and drinks often change. According to health experts, dementia is considered to be a complex condition and the risk of weight loss and malnutrition is always eminent. As a result, doctors feel that it is better if the patient acquires a bit of weight and good appetite compared to losing weight and having a loss of appetite.

Jane Byrne at FirstCare Dublin points out that there are many types of dementia, each with their own causes and symptoms. “However, there are similarities across the board, which we need to combat. Dementia is so widespread nowadays that all healthcare professionals really have to stand  up and take notice.”

A healthy diet has the capability of influencing the symptoms of the condition. For example, the consumption of sweets, high-fat dairy products, and meat may worsen the symptoms of the condition. However, consumption of low-fat-dairy products, legumes, fruits, grain and fish may reduce the symptoms reasonably. Caregivers should totally avoid giving dementia patients any type of processed food.

The lack of fluids and poor nutritional intake can enhance the development and severity of delirium. This is a state also referred to as the ‘acute confusional state’. Delirium occurs when the person is sick. This can lead to rapid decline in the behavior and mental state of the patient. People suffering from dementia are usually at a high risk of suffering from delirium. By engaging a dietician, you will be able to complete a nutritional assessment of the patient and can, from that point, engage the patient in proper diet.

Overall, proper nutrition plays a vital role in ensuring that dementia symptoms are managed effectively. Without proper nutrition, dementia symptoms normally escalate for the worst. Caregivers must exercise a high mind while dealing with patients. This is because the condition requires them to be vigilant in regards to the patient's condition and symptoms, Without doing this, the results may be fatal or disastrous.