Dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and nutrition

This Senior Savvy column addresses the important issue of dementia and nutrition:

Q: My mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease, lives in a nursing home. She is not eating well. She does not feel hungry and cannot be coaxed into eating. I have gone in to feed her, but she takes one bite and spits it out at me. I worry if she doesn’t eat enough, she will lose weight and become malnourished. Is there anything more I can do?

A: As dementia progresses, decreased food intake is common in later stages. Speak with the staff about your concerns. Also, feel free to speak with her primary care physician about your worries. It is important to eat and take in a certain amount of calories. The nursing home can weigh your mother weekly for weight loss. They can offer your mother high-caloric drinks, high-caloric cereal and other foods. These high-caloric items have vitamins and other important nutrients.If your mother enjoys picking up food and putting it in her mouth, consider having available a sandwich cut into bite-size pieces when you visit. Hand your mother a piece and give her time to eat it at her leisure.

via Senior Savvy: Helping your elder with eating – Little Falls, NY – The Times.

Nutrition in Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Disease

Patients with Alzheimer’s disease progressively lose many of their skills, such as the ability to care for themselves. As the disease worsens, patients may have problems getting proper nutrition. In moderate Alzheimer’s disease, patients may have difficulty preparing their meals. With severe Alzheimer’s disease, patients cannot eat without assistance. Some of the complications of the disease can also affect nutrition.

MedlinePlus, a service of the U.S. National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health, notes that Alzheimer’s disease patients may suffer from malnutrition and dehydration. So what can caregivers do to help with nutrition in late-stage Alzheimer’s disease?

via Nutrition in Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Disease – EmpowHER.com.

Tips for getting Alzheimer’s patients to eat and drink more

Alzheimer’s disease is a degenerative brain disorder that robs people of their ability to take care of themselves. It is a progressive disease which creates confusion and lack of movement in muscles. Alzheimer’s patients sometimes do not eat, and refuse meals because they do not recognize food. They have lost their sense of taste and smell, and they have difficulties swallowing food.

You will have to begin by identifying the reasons why they are not eating.

via Tips for getting Alzheimers patients to eat and drink more – by Jennifer Mcdonald – Helium.

Nutrition and Alzheimer’s

If you’re the caregiver of an Alzheimer’s patient, read this article from the Fort Myers News-Press by Florida dietitian Elaine Hastings. She explains why maintaining proper nutrition — and even eating, itself — can be a challenge for Alzheimer’s patients and offers some good ideas on overcoming the challenge.

It’s highly likely that you know someone who has or is suffering with Alzheimer’s disease; it’s the most common type of dementia. Four million Americans have the disease; most are over 65. The loss of mental function has a direct bearing on the nutrition of the individual who has the disease.

In early stages of Alzheimer’s, a person may be able to feed himself but cannot eat in a setting that’s not familiar. In this situation, verbal cues are important for reassurance, so that proper nutrition is maintained.

As the disease progresses, however, the issues become more serious. Loved ones may forget how to perform certain functions relevant to eating, such as how to hold silverware, how to chew, when to swallow – all of which can mandate the need for mealtime coaching.

via Nutrition Notes: Eating tough for those who have Alzheimer’s | news-press.com | The News-Press.

Apple juice improves behavior but not cognition in Alzheimer’s patients

Apple juice can be a useful supplement for calming the declining moods that are part of the normal progression of moderate-to-severe Alzheimer’s Disease (AD), according to a study in American Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Dementias (AJADD), published by SAGE.

In the AJADD study, after institutionalized AD patients consumed two 4-oz glasses of apple juice a day for a month, their caregivers reported no change in the patients’ Dementia Rating Scale or their day-to-day abilities. What did change, however, was the behavioral and psychotic symptoms associated with their dementia (as quantified by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory), with approximately 27% improvement, mostly in the areas related to anxiety, agitation, and delusion.

Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by a progressive loss of memory, decline in cognitive function, behavioral changes, and the loss in ability to do daily activities, all of which causes a significant caregiver burden and increased health care costs. While pharmacological treatments can provide temporary reduction in AD symptoms, they’re costly and cannot prevent the ultimate decline in cognitive and behavioral function. That’s why the authors considered it important to discover any possible nutritional interventions.

“The modest, but statistically significant, impact of apple juice on the behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia in this study adds to the body of evidence supporting the usefulness of nutritional approaches, including fruit and vegetable juices, in delaying the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s Disease, even in the face of known genetic risk factors,” write the authors, Ruth Remington, RN, PhD, Amy Chan, PhD, Alicia Lepore, MS, Elizabeth Kotlya, MS, and Thomas B. Shea, PhD, “As in prior studies with vitamin supplements, it indicates that nutritional supplementation can be effective even during the late stages of AD.”

via Apple juice improves behavior but not cognition in Alzheimer’s patients.

New method improves eating skills of dementia patients

A pioneering international study involving academics from the University of Sheffield has shown for the first time that it is possible to improve the eating skills and nutritional status of older people with dementia.

The study, which was published in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and funded by the National Health Research Institutes of Taiwan, tested two separate intervention methods to assess the eating patterns of dementia patients in Taiwan.

via New method improves eating skills of dementia patients.