Proper Nutrition for Older Adults and Residents With Alzheimer's

December 4, 2018

alzheimer patients

Proper Nutrition Can Be a Challenge

Loss of appetite is a common problem in older people living in nursing homes or assisted living residences.1 It can contribute to weight loss, nutritional deficiencies, and poor healthcare outcomes.2 For caregivers and staff of long-term care facilities, understanding the cause behind an apparent lack of appetite can go a long way in ensuring that daily nutritional needs are met.

Why does this happen?

Medications: For many residents, treatment for health issues may be decreasing their appetite. Medications have appetite suppressing side effects, and treatments that result in nausea can also limit food intake.

Diseases and disorders: Residents with swallowing problems or digestive disorders, such as reflux, make eating unpleasant. Diseases that cause loss of motor function in the mouth can also make eating difficult and painful.3

Dental problems: Dentures that don't fit well can cause discomfort in the gums, which may make eating solid foods painful.

Changing How We Look at Food

Residents with Alzheimer's pose new challenges when it comes to eating. Not only do many of the already mentioned impediments exist, but there is also a cognitive dissonance between what is served and what the patient sees. The ability to see colors diminishes with age, and people with Alzheimer's often have a hard time seeing contrast, which can make it tough to distinguish food from a plate or liquid from its container.4 A study conducted at Boston University found that Alzheimer’s patients who were served meals on red plates ate 25% more than those served the same meal on white plates.5 The research also found that presenting food on a high contrast background, like a bold colored plate, could mitigate the loss of visual perception the patient was experiencing.6

AliMed has a wide selection of high-quality ADL products that help promote patient independence, including our red dinnerware sets. Learn more here.

References

  1. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4589891/
  2. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4589891/
  3. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/dysphagia
  4. http://www.alzheimersweekly.com/2014/08/red-plates-for-eating-with-dementia.html
  5. http://www.alzheimersweekly.com/2014/08/red-plates-for-eating-with-dementia.html
  6. http://www.alzheimersweekly.com/2014/08/red-plates-for-eating-with-dementia.html

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