Overcoming nutritional challenges with dementia

If you have dementia patients in aged care, as I do, you will know how difficult it can be to ensure they are adequately fed and watered.

And by that I mean that they have optimal nutrition, hydration and energy balance.

Take Alison for instance. Like many people with Alzheimer’s disease, she is always worried and anxious about something.

She can never remember what that ‘something’ is, which makes her even more anxious. Alison is always on the move, pacing up and down the corridors of the aged care facility, clasping and wringing her hands and mouthing sounds.

Working against this increased energy output is a lack of interest in food. Her taste and smell has changed. She sometimes doesn’t recognise food, forgets to eat and gets distracted.

She fatigues quickly while eating and finds it difficult to use a spoon or fork due to poor eye/hand coordination.

Alison’s thirst and appetite control mechanisms are deteriorating, resulting in dehydration and poor oral intake.

The energy imbalance from constant pacing and fidgeting as well as decreased food intake has seen Alison’s weight progressively decline since her AD diagnosis two years ago.