Raising the importance of Eating well with Dementia

Monday 4 June 2018

At Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition (AMN) we believe nutrition is integral to healthcare. Whether managing a long-term condition or recovering from an illness, dietary intervention can play an important role in delivering outcomes to individuals as part of their overall health care.  

Particularly for those living with Dementia, good nutritional advice throughout the illness, can have a positive impact on health outcomes, quality of life and the experience of those caring for them. 

Nutricia booklet web5In a survey conducted by Carers UK, we found that nutrition was often a hidden issue with over 60% of carers being worried about the nutrition of the person they care for and often do not know where to go for help.  This can result in increased strain and worry in an already challenging role, which can also have consequences for carers health and well-being.   

Carers UK in partnership with Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition have produced a range of nutritional leaflets, including Eating Well with Dementia, and The Importance of Eating Well for Carers to better support carers and those living with Dementia.

Eating Well with Dementia covers many areas experienced by people living with dementia from early stages when perhaps taste changes or food refusal can occur, and in later stages when difficulty with chewing and swallowing can make eating and drinking even more difficult.  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 hints and tips to encourage a person to eat include:

* 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 would 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.

For more information 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.

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.

Learn more through the e-learning module.