Nutrition for those with Alzheimer's disease and dementia

For those suffering from Alzheimer's disease and dementia, obtaining proper nutrition and hydration can be a challenge. Myriad factors come into play, some of which are not obvious to caregivers. Let's review some simple ways to help ensure your loved one's nutritional needs are being met.

For many with Alzheimer's disease, eating six small meals a day as opposed to the customary schedule of three is much more manageable, for a variety of reasons. Some Alzheimer's sufferers are children of the Great Depression, and can become very upset if they are unable to finish a large meal and see food being wasted. Also, six smaller meals give individuals continuous energy for activities, rather than a large meal, which may cause lethargy, or anxiety if they are unable to finish.

Food preparation is also key. For sufferers with declining eyesight, it can be difficult to make out a white plate against a white table cloth with a white napkin. Most will push away their meal rather than ask for help. Solve this by adding contrast to the plate and table setting.

Hydration is an incredibly important part of an Alzheimer's sufferer's health as well. Regular hydration is key, as is making water out and available at all times. Being well hydrated means fewer infections, thus fewer drugs and hospitalizations. Also, many medications can cause dehydration, which is an added concern. Encourage frequent hydration. For those sufferers living in senior care community, caregivers can encourage hydration by simply placing a sign that reads, "Free" next to all the hydration stations. This will remove the unfamiliarity and discomfort some sufferers may feel when they encounter a hydration station. Remember - this generation, for the most part, did not grow up carrying around a water bottle like many of us do.

Also, it's important to stay consistent, both regarding mealtimes and in other facets of an Alzheimer's sufferer's life. Stay true to mealtime routines to instill familiarity and comfort. Finally, whet their appetite by cooking foods with strong, comforting aromas - many sufferers retain their sense of smell much longer than other senses, and the smell of a tasty, familiar food can both comfort them and encourage them to eat more.

About the Author:

Bridges by EPOCH is the evolution of EPOCH Senior Living's renowned memory care program BRIDGES. Recognizing that a free-standing community devoted entirely to caring for those with memory challenges can provide more focused care, an enhanced lifestyle and a more fulfilling environment, Bridges by EPOCH is the realization of EPOCH's commitment to improving the lives of all those touched by Alzheimer's disease and memory loss. EOEA Certification Application Pending.

With nearly 20 years of experience in the senior living industry, Alicia Seaver is committed to making a difference in the lives of seniors. Prior to joining the Bridges by EPOCH team, Alicia held various positions at senior living communities in Florida and Massachusetts, including Executive Director of Hearthstone Alzheimer Care and Memory Care Program Director at Emeritus Senior Living. Through her extensive experience, Alicia gained valuable knowledge and expertise that will allow her to truly make a difference in the lives of residents at Bridges by EPOCH at Hingham. Additionally, Alicia is certified by the National Institute on Aging as a Memory Impairment Specialist and is certified in both Massachusetts and Florida as a State Certified Alzheimer's and Related Dementia Trainer. Alicia is excited to be part of an organization that is as dedicated to providing high quality, individualized care to seniors as she is. Alicia currently lives in South Shore with her husband and two daughters.