Eating and drinking for anyone is important to stay healthy, which in turn helps to improve one’s quality of life and well-being. There are various reasons why someone living with Dementia may lose their appetite. This can range from depression, communication, pain, tiredness, medication and lack of physical activity.
Depression in itself can cause loss of appetite, I think we all know when you are miserable you can have the, I can’t be bothered factor. You can of course get help with medication and therapies.
Communication, someone one living with dementia can have trouble telling you that they are hungry. So I could become agitated or even aggressive because I have a need but am not able to tell you. This is where staff need to know and understand why someone’s mood changes, look at the time of day and work out what it could be that they need. Prompting or pictures could help with this, even signing with gestures.
Pain, again if someone is in pain how do they tell you. What if they have tooth ache, oral care is very important and regular hygiene and mouth checks are needed.
Tiredness can also cause mood swings, sleeping patterns can vary dramatically with dementia.
Medication dosage changes can alter a person’s appetite, this would warrant the medication being reviewed.
Physical activity can help improve appetite, if I am sitting and doing nothing all day it’s highly likely that my appetite will be diminished as I am not burning anything off.
Weight should be checked on a regular basis, someone with a healthy weight should be weighed once a month. Someone showing signs of weight loss should be weighed weekly, this is measured on a MUST (Malnutrition Universal Screening Tool) score, anyone with a MUST score of between 1 and 2 would need to be weighed weekly. Weight is worked out on a height to weight ratio. Also to be considered is that someone who is overweight may also be suffering from malnutrition. This is because the food they are eating is unhealthy, it may contain a high amount of fat and is not providing the right nutrients, fibre and vitamins.
Break down of foods
Carbohydrates fuel your body and help your central nervous system and brain fight against disease.
Fats, there are healthy fats with can help balance your blood sugar and help prevent risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes and also improve brain function.
Vitamins are also needed to protect the body against disease, but there are essential vitamins to function properly including A, C, B6 and D. Vitamins can lower the risk of diseases and are powerful antioxidants again helping to boost the immune system.
Minerals such as Calcium, Iron and Zinc help with bone strength, the nerve signal transmission which in turn helps maintain healthy blood pressure and red blood cells all of which helps boost the immune system.
Our bodies are generally made up of 62% of our weight in water so it is really important to have the correct levels of hydration which improves the brain function.
So looking at all the above you can understand why ladies and gentlemen living with dementia need a balanced healthy diet.
Larchfield House has created a nutritionally balanced menu on a four weekly rotating cycle. The staff are trained to understand the residents in their care and to help them to have a dining experience that is not only nutritionally good, but also a walk down memory lane. Within the menu are some of our residents favourite meals, this information is gathered from the residents themselves, their families and their life histories.