AS seniors with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) age, many have a diminished sense of smell and taste. In fact, the sense of smell is one of the first senses to be adversely affected by age. In addition, many seniors experience vision problems. Having weakened senses and an inability to taste foods are a few examples of just why getting seniors with AD to eat properly may be a real challenge. Other factors related to a poor appetite for seniors include, ill-fitting dentures, loss of teeth, and swallowing problems (which commonly occurs as a result of dementia).
Increase Nutrition Needs for Seniors
So, it’s no surprise that getting seniors with AD to eat enough food and take in a proper balanced diet can be a real challenge. In addition, seniors have an increased need for some nutrients such as calcium, Vitamin D and B Vitamins.
Elderly adults should be drinking approximately 64 ounces per day of fluids. Keep in mind that some fluids are ingested when we eat solid food-particularly fruits such as watermelon and other juicy varieties. Fluids are limited for those with some conditions, such as congestive heart failure.
Adequate protein levels are vital for seniors. Protein helps promote healthy tissues, and boosts the immune system. Protein also promotes healing and helps prevent muscle loss (which could result from inactivity and subsequently, a weakened appetite).
Seniors need to eat foods with plenty of fiber each day to prevent constipation and keep the GI tract healthy. Many medications are known to have side effects that cause constipation, as a result of slowing down the digestive tract. Inactivity can cause slower mobility of digestion and taking in plenty of fiber (such as prunes) each day can reverse these common symptoms of aging.
While eating a healthy Alzheimer’s diet is recommended for all adults with AD, malnutrition is one of the most common hurdles to overcome for seniors in the later, more severe stages of the disease. It may be important to change the goal from the healthy AD diet to just getting your loved one food in general. Catering to the likes and dislikes of a senior who is underweight and has malnutrition (even if the foods are not necessarily part of a brain healthy diet) is better than allowing your loved one to eat no food at all. Caregivers should attempt to offer healthy choices first, but if your loved one is determined to refuse, getting him/her to eat some type of food should become the primary goal.
Learn more about the Alzheimer’s diet by joining our FREE 25 lesson course at AlzU.org today. CLICK HERE to join.