Alzheimer’s And Nutrition Issues
Today is World Alzheimer’s Day and it’s time to think Purple. We at IWB, in pursuit of offering support to the cause of spreading awareness about this disease present a special post about Alzheimer’s Disease and nutritional issues of the sufferers.
I have started forgetting things, names, incidents and so many things and I like any other women late in her forties freak out at the thought that what if one day I come to know that I am suffering from Alzheimer’s!! I really get stressed at the thought of getting affected by Dementia which is considered to be the initial stage of Alzheimer’s disease. Dementia is a general term for memory loss and other intellectual abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life. you forget faces, names, events and other minor as well as major things in daily life. Alzheimer’s disease accounts for 60 to 80 percent of dementia cases. Someone tried to console me by saying that Dementia is part of the process of aging and growing old. But me being the adamant middle aged so called aware woman wasn’t ready to accept that advice. Thus I decided to go through all the details about Alzheimer’s and Dementia. And now here I would love to share with you readers whatever knowledge I have gained about it. Consider it a kind of myth busting post.
Alzheimer’s is not a normal part of aging process
The majority of people with Alzheimer’s are 65 and older and although the greatest known risk factor is increasing age, yet Alzheimer’s is not just a disease of old age. Those who suffer an early onset of this disease are often in the age group of 40s or 50s and consist of around 5 percent of people affected with the disease.
Alzheimer’s worsens with age
Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease, as symptoms of dementia worsen over a period of time. Early stages have mild memory loss, but with time passing individual loses the ability to carry on a conversation and respond to the environment. Alzheimer’s grants on an average eight years after the symptoms becoming noticeable to others. But survival may range from 4 to 20 years,and that depends on age and other health conditions.
Sadly enough Alzheimer’s has no cure currently, but research for treatments for symptoms are on. The current Alzheimer’s treatments fails to stop Alzheimer’s from progressing, yet they can temporarily slow down the worsening of dementia symptoms and improve the quality of life of the patients. There is a worldwide effort going on to find better ways to treat the disease and delay the onset, preventing its development.
Symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Difficulty remembering newly learned information
Just like our bodies, our brains also change as we age and most of us eventually face slowed thinking and occasional problems with remembering things. But serious memory loss, confusion and other major changes in our mind’s way of working, might be a sign of failing brain cells. The difficulty in remembering newly learned information is the most common early symptom of Alzheimer’s, because Alzheimer’s changes typically begin in the part of the brain that affects learning. As Alzheimer’s advances through the brain it leads to increasingly severe symptoms, including disorientation, mood and behavior changes; deepening confusion about events, time and place; unfounded suspicions about family, friends; more serious memory loss and behavior changes; and difficulty speaking, swallowing and walking.
Difficulty in recognition of the problem
People with memory loss or other possible signs of Alzheimer’s find it hard to recognize that they have a problem. Signs of dementia may be more obvious to family members or friends. Early diagnosis can improve quality of life.
Nutrition and Alzheimer’s
Regular and nutritious meals become a challenge for people with dementia. With the decline of cognitive function, too many food choices overwhelm them. Since proper nutrition is important to keep the body strong and healthy but for a person with Alzheimer’s or dementia, poor nutrition increases behavioral symptoms and cause weight loss. Here are some basic nutrition tips that can help boost the person with dementia’s health. And not only that if as a normal person we eat this kind of food we can reduce the chances of Dementia and Alzheimer’s in our life.
- Have a balanced diet with a variety of foods.
- Eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and lean protein foods.
- Cut down on refined sugars.
- Limit foods with high sodium and use less salt.
As this disease progresses, loss of appetite and weight loss becomes a matter of concern. There are various causes of poor appetite among the patients.
- Not recognizing food.
The person may no longer recognize the foods you put on his or her plate.
New medications or a dosage change may affect appetite.
- Not enough exercise.
Lack of physical activity will decrease appetite. Encourage simple exercise, such as going for a walk, gardening or washing dishes.
- Decreased sense of smell and taste.
The person with dementia may not eat because food may not smell or taste as good as it once did.
How to handle nutrition problems
- Limit distractions by serving meals in quiet surroundings, away from the television and other distractions.
- Keep the table setting simple by avoiding placing items on the table such as table arrangements or decorations that might distract or confuse the person. Use only the utensils needed for the meal.
- Distinguish food from the plate by not changing the visual of the plate from the table. It can help to use white plates or bowls with a contrasting color place mat. Patterned dishes, tablecloths and place mats must be avoided.
- Check the food temperature as a person with dementia might not be able to tell if something is too hot to eat or drink. Thus, its always better to test the temperature of foods and beverages before serving.
- Serve only one or two foods at a time as too many foods at once may be overwhelming. Simplify by serving one dish at a time.
- Be flexible to food preferences by changing according to the patient’s choices.
- Give the person plenty of time to eat and keep reminding him or her to chew and swallow carefully. Keep in mind that it may take hours to finish eating.
- Eat together and make meals an enjoyable social event as research suggests that people eat better when they are in the company of others.
- Keep in mind the person may not remember when or if he or she ate so if the person continues to ask about eating breakfast, consider serving several breakfasts like juice, followed by toast, followed by cereal.
There is so much to understand about this disease and help the affected people and let us pray that no one has to go through the troubles and turmoil of Dementia and Alzhiemer’s. Readers are requested to share this post on their social networking sites to help us make you all a part of this awareness campaign.
Will you be able to empathise with the people suffering from Dementia and Alzhiemer’s now?
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