Food is so central to the holiday season. We associate it with celebrating and home. The question is what to serve our elderly relatives and guests that suffer from Alzheimer’s and other diseases that promote rather than even jeopardizes their health. Many of these patients also begin to exhibit what seems like odd behavior during mealtimes. Some struggle with poor appetites, while others forget the taste of foods they used to love. Below, we discuss the best types of foods for Alzheimer’s patients, and how you can inspire your loved one to eat nourishing meals.
Slowing The Progression of Alzheimer’s Disease
More and more research is uncovering that what you eat can have a dramatic impact on your health. Incredibly, food can help prevent or even treat disease. Ideally, we want our loved ones to key into these foods and preserve their health. Current thinking is that the best foods to slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease are also those that benefit brain health.
Researchers at Weill Cornell Medicine have found that a Mediterranean diet may help slow the progression of Alzheimer’s for patients who are in the early stages of the disease. The diet includes lots of fruits, vegetables, and lean proteins.
During the study, the doctors scanned the brains of volunteers who didn’t show any signs of Alzheimer’s. They placed half of the volunteers on a healthy Mediterranean diet and the other half on a Western diet high in saturated fats and refined sugars. Finally, they followed up with another brain scan after two years. The participants who ate a Mediterranean diet had significantly fewer beta-amyloid deposits, a type of protein prevalently found in the brains of Alzheimer’s patients. Those patients also had more brain activity than those on the Western diet.
What Seniors Should Include In Their Diets
Many believe that incorporating foods from the Mediterranean diet may help slow Alzheimer’s symptoms in patients. These foods include:
- Whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, or brown rice
- Green leafy vegetables
- Lean protein like poultry and fish
- Beans and legumes
- Nuts and seeds
- Berries of any sort, such as blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries.
- Cold-pressed olive oil
That diet also limits red meat consumption to less than four times a week. In general, encourage your loved one to cut down on fried foods, which contain hydrogenated oils that may increase neural inflammation. Finally, be sure to monitor the ingestion of refined sugars. These have been found to cause changes in the brain that negatively affect memory.
Others prescribe the ketogenic diet for those with Alzheimer’s disease. With some calling the disease the third diabetes, there is a hypothesis that the brain cells are dying due to a lack of an ability to absorb glucose. Triggers such as a sudden craving for sugar should be red flags that glucose is lacking for these patients. As such, with a dire need for fuel, a diet including high quality fats may be necessary to feed the brain. Foods that could help are eggs, fish and coconut oil.
In all, cutting back on desserts and eliminating sugary drinks can be critical in improving the well being of Alzheimer’s and all elderly patients since sugar has been found to depress the immune system.
Best Mealtime Tips for Alzheimer’s Patients in Queens
Of course, even the most healthy foods won’t benefit a senior who refuses to eat it. Although we many serve them only the healthiest of foods, they may not cooperate and eat them. Caregivers for Alzheimer’s patients may need to get creative to encourage better food choices.
- Make sure the patient is getting enough exercise. Activities like gardening or walking may stimulate the patient’s appetite.
- Have a dentist check the patient for any dental issues. Some Alzheimer’s patients may suffer from oral pain that impacts their ability to eat.
- Keep meals free from other distractions. If possible, the television should be off or turned down during meal times. Initial research shows that ambient sounds, gentle music, uplifting aromas, and soft lighting can positively impact the appetite.
- Use high-contrast dishes. As symptoms of the disease progress in Alzheimer’s patients, they may lose some of their visual and spatial abilities. A bright white plate can help the food stand out.
- Only serve a few types of food at a time. Having too many options can cause an Alzheimer’s patient anxiety or stress.
- Offer finger foods, such as small sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and potato puffs to make eating a trouble-free experience.
- Schedule consistent mealtimes. A familiar routine can inspire a feeling of comfort and safety in patients.
- Make sure there are always nutritious beverages available. Dehydration can be a problem for both seniors and Alzheimer’s patients. More importantly, encourage your senior to drink water and avoid high-calorie juices and sodas.
Serving the right foods and getting an Alzheimer’s patient to eat them can be real challenges. However, the above tips may help make mealtimes more pleasant and productive.
David York Agency Can Keep You Updated About The Best Foods For Alzheimer’s Patients in Queens
Research shows that upwards of 65 million people may suffer from dementia by 2030. As Alzheimer’s disease progresses, affected patients may be relegated to long-term care facilities. Meanwhile, others must rely on live-in caregivers to navigate the activities of daily living.
David York Agency supports good diet choices for all Alzheimer’s patients in Queens.
At David York Home Healthcare Agency, extraordinary service is what sets us apart from other companies that provide in-home health care services. Whatever your care needs, we are there for you, always striving to exceed your expectations. For more information about David York Agency’s qualified, compassionate caregivers, contact us at (718) 376-7755. A free phone consultation can help you determine what services would meet your needs. We aim to provide you and your loved one with the assistance you need. If you’d like to hear more from us, please like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter or LinkedIn. For more helpful tips and information, contact us today.