Nutrition is key to cognitive function

 

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Proper nutrition is important for everyone to ensure strength and health, but for people with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it is essential to helping them lead a better life.

Food demonstrations for the residents in Memory Care at New Pond Village, help residents, spouses and their families stay in tune with nutrition tips.

Some guidelines for better nutrition include:

  • Eat a balanced diet with a variety of foods that include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy and lean protein foods.
  • Limit foods with high saturated fat and cholesterol. Some fat is OK, but not all fats are equal. Go light on butter, solid shortening, lard and fatty meat.
  • Cut down on refined sugars.
  • Limit foods with high sodium and use less salt. Cut down by using herbs and spices to season food.

A loss of appetite is sometimes common for memory care residents. To counter this, experts recommend supplements like yogurt and milkshakes between meals to add calories. Keeping energy levels as high as possible is the goal.

It is also important to stay hydrated. We encourage residents and caregivers to drink plenty of water. One suggestion is to use small cups of water or liquids throughout the day or foods with high water content such as fruit, soups, milkshakes and smoothies.

Mealtimes should be focused

Giving residents too many choices sometimes leads to frustration. Some suggestions for making mealtimes easier and more nutritional are:

  • Limit distractions. Leave the TV off.
  • Keep it simple. Don’t use a lot of table items.
  • Distinguish food from the plate. Use red plates or bowls with a contrasting color place mat and avoid patterned dishes, tablecloths and place mats.
  • Check the food temperature.
  • Serve only one or two foods at a time.
  • Be flexible about food preferences.
  • Always keep in mind the person may or may not remember when or if he or she ate.
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