Good Nutrition: Positive Impact on Dementia

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Ruby Care Senior Living Advisors

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Jan 07, 2024

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Texas - Dallas, Collin, SE Denton & Rockwall Counties

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Good Nutrition: Positive Impact on Dementia

There are over 6 million people living with dementia in the U.S. and 1 in 3 seniors die with Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia according to the Alzheimer’s Association.  While there are many different types of dementia there is currently no known cure.  Much research is taking place to indicate that good nutrition can have a positive impact on patients’ quality of life. Today we will talk about ways in which nutrition can play a key role in making a difference for patients with dementia.


Definition of Dementia

Dementia is defined by the National Institute on Aging as “the loss of cognitive functioning – thinking, remembering, and reasoning – to such an extent that it interferes with a person’s daily life and activities.  It’s important to understand what dementia is and the challenges those living with it face.  Dementia is considered a progressive condition, with Alzheimer’s disease being the most common form.  It affects memory, thinking, and behavior, making daily activities increasingly difficult. This can make it hard for one dealing with dementia to maintain a proper diet, which can result in weight loss, malnutrition, and other health issues.


Nutrition in Dementia Care

Good nutrition is important for everyone in maintaining good health, but especially plays a vital role in those living with dementia.  A balanced diet can provide a positive effect on a patient’s life, including cognitive function, physical health, and emotional well-being.


·  Cognitive Function - Good nutrition can slow the progression of dementia and boost cognitive function. Omgea-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and vitamins are associated with improved brain health.  Foods such as fatty fish (salmon & mackerel), leafy greens, and berries, can help protect brain cells and enhance cognitive abilities.

·  Weight Management - Dementia patients often experience unintentional weight loss due to decreased appetite, forgetting to eat, or difficulty eating independently. A proper nutritious diet can help maintain a healthy weight. Preserving muscle mass and reducing risk of complications.  

·  Hydration - Ensuring proper hydration is important for everyone but is critical for dementia patients as they lose the ability to feel thirsty.  Dehydration can increase confusion, agitation, and other behavioral symptoms.  Regular fluid intake and offering foods with high water content can help prevent dehydration.

·  Emotional Well-Being - Sharing meals with loved ones or friends fosters social engagement and a sense of connectedness promoting well-being.  Delicious and nutritious meals also provide a source of comfort and pleasure.


9 Top Foods for Those with Dementia

1.  Leafy Greens

2.  Berries

3.  Fish high in Omega-3 fatty acid

4.  Beans

5.  Whole Grains

6.  Nuts

7.  Sweet Potatoes

8.  Seeds

9.  Healthy Fats (Extra virgin olive oil, Coconut oil)


Additional Tips 

Working in the senior industry and many with dementia and their families, here are some additional tips to think about to make mealtime a more positive experience:

·  Frequent and small meals – smaller and more frequent meals may be easier to manage and provide better nutrition overall as they may be easier to manage than large meals.

·  Maintain a routine – consistent mealtimes can help reduce anxiety and make mealtimes more enjoyable and comfortable.

·  Consult with a dietitian – a registered dietitian can address the personal dietary need of the patient and customize meal plans.

·  Larger grip utensils and handles on cups – This helps the individual be able to help facilitate independent eating as the disease progresses.


While there is no cure for dementia, the impact of good nutrition is notable and continues to be studied.  Having a well-balanced diet can help improve cognitive function, supports overall good physical health, and enhances the emotional well-being of dementia patients.  By focusing on nutrient-rich foods, hydration, and a mealtime routine, caregivers can help make positive and significant impact in the lives of those living with dementia.  Proper nutrition along with a loving and supportive environment, can improve the quality of life for both the patient and the caregiver(s).  May we all continue to strive for compassion and understanding in caring for those with dementia while researchers continue to search for a cure for this disease that impacts the lives of so many we love.


Author: Britt Hemsell | Ruby Care Senior Living Advisor & Blog Contributor

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