Thursday 16 August 2018

Fears Alzheimer's patients suffering malnutrition as they often forget to eat

Many people suffering from dementia have poor eating habits and may forget meals, new research shows. Stock Photo: PA
Many people suffering from dementia have poor eating habits and may forget meals, new research shows. Stock Photo: PA
Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

Alzheimer's sufferers are also coping with nutritional problems as they struggle to eat properly at mealtimes or simply forget to eat.

Many people suffering from dementia have poor eating habits and may forget meals, new research shows.

Problems can include difficulty finishing meals, being too tired to eat, neglecting to eat or forgetting that they already have had a meal.

It can be compounded by difficulties chewing or swallowing, according to the research carried out by Ipsos MRBI, commissioned by Nutricia Advanced Medical Nutrition and The Alzheimer Society of Ireland.

A majority also report a change in their sense of taste, smell and thirst. Some 70pc suffer changes in their weight - about half of these lost weight.

Some 82pc said they could face problems getting to shops and 88pc said shopping is confusing, with others relying on family and friends to do it for them.

Few remained actively involved in cooking, and more than half had not sought advice on how to manage their diet and nutrition.

Tips

The research was carried out as background to a new booklet for families and carers called 'Eating well with Dementia', which has been published by Nutricia Medical and The Alzheimer Society of Ireland.

The booklet is now available by ringing the Alzheimer National Helpline on 1800 341 341, emailing helpline@alzheimer.ie, at www.alzheimer.ie or in many GP surgeries.

Tina Leonard, from The Alzheimer Society of Ireland, said:"Everyone who has dementia is different.

"Some people can struggle to eat enough throughout the day to meet their nutritional requirements, while others may forget to eat, thinking they have already eaten, or struggle to finish a meal.

"This can all become more challenging as dementia progresses.

"Eating a healthy, balanced diet is essential to maintaining good health and following the tips in 'Eating well with Dementia' will ensure people are getting all the nutrients they need. Family and friends can play a key role.

"Some of the tips contained in this booklet include making sure people with dementia have some company at mealtimes and that mealtimes are sociable and enjoyable events for all of the family.

"Other simple tips include encouraging people to eat finger food should using cutlery be an issue, or if people like to walk around during meal times."

Nutricia head of public and strategic affairs Fiona Rafferty said: "Many are looking for specific advice as to how dementia can affect their nutritional intake.

"Advice must evolve in line with dementia itself, and also be shared with friends and family who are supporting the person."

Irish Independent

Life Newsletter

Our digest of the week's juiciest lifestyle titbits.

Editors Choice

Also in Life