The energy and nutrients from the food we eat are necessary to maintain health, quality of life, to prevent injury and disease, and to manage chronic illness. With the aging of the population an increasing number of older adults are living longer but many are affected by chronic conditions. Many of these conditions, such as Dementia, Alzheimer’s Disease, hypertension, congestive heart failure, and diabetes, are responsible for changes in
diet and nutrient intake. It is very stressful when someone with dementia begins to lose their appetite, or is unable to continue eating a regular diet. As a person’s dementia progresses, their relationship with food also changes. It can become hard to maintain a healthy, balanced diet. The person may struggle with chewing and swallowing, and co-ordination problems could affect their ability to eat. They might have difficulty sitting still, or no longer be able to recognize hunger. One common issue is a loss of interest in food, which can be attributed to changes in taste, as well the need for modified diets. Modification of food and liquid is an important management strategy for dysphagia in people with dementia. A puree diet is one of the most common diets for dysphagia. Now stop and imagine yourself having to start a puree diet tomorrow? Frightening? Depressing? Both? This is how those with dementia feel about that change. Although a puree diet may be absolutely necessary, it very often results in decreased food consumption with leads to loss of energy, large amount of weight, as well as malnutrition. Imagine if this was put in front of you?
I don’t know about you but I don’t know what that is in that bowl and I do not care. What I do know is, I can’t blame someone for not wanting that bowl in Sample 1, dementia or no dementia. In order to manage a puree diet and other modified diets, a Nutrition Therapy Program is necessary. What if I asked you would you rather have Sample 1 or Sample 2?
I pick Sample 2. A pretty plate nutrition therapy program makes a modified diet as appetizing as possible and in turn increasing consumption for those that truly need every single drop for a good quality of life.
As someone who had to follow a modified diet for weeks on end several times in my life including as recently as a few years ago, I can relate to this topic personally. Stay tuned for future blog posts featuring some of my favorite delicious recipes.