Miles For Memory: Food Benefits and Risks and Dementia
Everybody has to eat, and that can pose some hazards for people suffering from memory loss issues. Susan Odell, of Reflections Memory Care, was a guest on the Miles for Memory Moment on WBCK with Tim Collins. She talked about some of the risks and benefits when it comes to food and dementia patients.
Odell says weight gain, from overeating or only eating sweets, or weight loss from not eating because a person just isn't hungry are common. Sometimes they don’t like the taste or texture of some foods. Also a change there may be changes in eating habits. They may become more easily distracted at meal time, forget how to use utensils, eating pieces of food that are too large – causing choking and/or difficulty with swallowing.
If they are still living on their own, there is the risk of not having access to appropriate foods, the problem of safety in cooking or properly cooking some food items as well as simply forgetting to or not bothering to eat.
Odell says one of the things they do at Reflections Memory Care is 'cueing'. "Instead of asking 'would you like to go to lunch', we just say 'hey we're going to lunch'. We might sit with them and pick up a fork." She says they provide subtle guidance, like opening the doors to the dining room so the smell will motivate a patient to come and eat.
Another consideration for patients is choosing foods that can slow memory loss. Studies show that a diet that emphasizes green leafy vegetables, berries, nuts, beans, whole grains, fish, poultry olive oil and moderate amounts of alcohol is the healthiest diet for the brain. Red meat, butter, cheese sweets and fried foods should be limited for a healthier brain as well as a healthier body.
There are food assistance programs for older adults living in our community. The Calhoun County Senior Services and CareWell Services provide funding for senior dining centers and for Meals on Wheels. Also, Project Fresh, coordinated by CareWell Services offers coupons that can be used for the purchase of fresh produce.
Miles for Memories is creating solutions for those impacted by Alzheimer’s and other memory loss issues in Calhoun County through movement, programming and research. For more information, visit us on FaceBook or at www.milesformemories.org