During Dementia Awareness Week we’re looking at the effect Dementia can have on appetite and dementia care strategies for improving nutrition and eating environments.
The cause of weight loss in dementia differs at every stage and depends on the individual, however some of the contributing factors can be:
• A reduced food intake due to ‘forgetting to eat’, stopping shopping trips, forgetting how to prepare food and leaving food to go out of date.
• A reduced food intake due to ‘forgetting how to eat’ i.e. the person may forget how to cut up food and in later stages may forget how to chew. Once a person forgets to swallow a Speech and Language therapist should assess the person to advise which textures are safe. Usually thicker fluids are recommended as they go down slower than thin fluids like water.
• Distractions during eating – a person can intend to eat and then be distracted by the surrounding environment impacting on their actual food intake.
• Taste changes – as we get older our taste buds change, they can also change when taking certain medications – hence foods we used to like become either tasteless or horrible and vice versa, so trying certain foods that they used to dislike can be useful.
• People may forget what to eat and not know what to choose and therefore will sometimes opt for ‘easy’ options which could be unhealthy.
• Some people with Dementia who wander or ‘pace’ will be using up significantly more calories than they once were and therefore their calorie requirements are higher than they used to be.
Looking at the diet of our customers is part of the person-centred and bespoke solutions we offer our customers. With the aid of Helping Hands’ nutritionist, Caroline Redman, our customers with dementia will have a diet developed specifically for their needs. To ask questions specifically about dementia nutrition, creating the right dining environment or about the high level dementia care service Helping Hands offers, please contact us on 0808 180 9488 or email firstname.lastname@example.org