Raising Awareness & Importance to Eating Well When Living with Dementia

hydration

12-18 March 2018

I am delighted to have this opportunity to raise awareness of the importance of nutrition and dementia during Nutrition and Hydration week.  I am Lynne Stevenson, Dietitian and External Affairs Advisor, Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition, Member of Alzheimer Scotland’s AHP Dementia Forum and a daughter who has cared for my dad who lived with dementia.  I feel passionate that about the role that good nutrition plays in overall health and well-being as well as the integral role it plays in illness and disease

Many people living with dementia may experience a change in their relationship with food, eating and drinking.  As dementia progresses, the behavioural, emotional and physical changes that can occur can make eating and drinking more difficult.  Depending on the individual, these changes can result in dehydration, weight loss or weight gain.   In some cases a person living with dementia may lose weight unintentionally due to a variety of reasons including poor appetite, a change in food preference, co-ordination problems and chewing and swallowing problems

Some tips to encourage a person to eat

  • Be flexible around times of meals
  • Offer small snacks and meals more often and throughout the day
  • Taste preferences may change so offer food enjoyed in the past as well as new foods
  • Sweet or spicy food may be favoured so try adding honey to vegetables or sweet sauces to meat dishes
  • Finger foods can be eaten more easily if co-ordination is difficult
  • Chewing and swallowing problems may become more apparent so it is important to speak to a GP who will be able to make a referral to a speech and language therapist who can carry out an assessment and provide help with managing any difficulties.

It is important that those at risk of malnutrition are identified early and managed appropriately.  There are various tools and resources now available to help sign post individuals and Health Care Professionals to identify the risk of malnutrition, and what to do to manage it.

Further information on eating well when living with dementia

Carers UK and Carers Scotland in partnership with Nutricia have developed a range of resources on the importance of good nutrition within long term conditions, including dementia.  For more hints and tips on how people living with dementia can enjoy meal times and get the best from their diet, please refer to “Eating well with Dementia” guide  www.carersuk.org/help-and-advice/health/nutrition/dementia-and-nutrition

Learn more through the e-learning module at www.carersuk.org/for-professionals/carersuk-products/e-learning-courses/e-learning-role-of-nutrition

Allied health professional’s . Who they are and how they CAN help leaflet
https://www.alzscot.org/assets/0001/7456/AHP_Leaflet_for_launch.pdf

Eating Well with Dementia
https://www.ndr-uk.org/item/19/Dementia/Eating-Well-with-Dementia.html

Contributor :
Lynne Stevenson,
Dietitian and External Affairs Advisor,
Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition,
Lynne.stevenson@nutricia.com
@lynnekstevenson

 

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