Our nutritional needs evolve as we age. Older adults often need fewer calories but may require a greater level of nutrition. Several factors play a role in this shift:
- Activity levels
- Changes in metabolism
- Deterioration of bone and muscle mass
- Health conditions
- Changes in body composition
Another thing that can change as we grow older is our ability to maintain healthy eating habits. It’s not uncommon for older adults to lose interest in food or to experience health problems that can make it difficult to enjoy a meal. And for those living with memory loss caused by Alzheimer’s or dementia, forgetting to eat is a common occurrence.
Mealtimes can become particularly challenging for caregivers who are trying to make sure their loved ones get the nutrients they need. When meal planning for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia, it’s important to know that the quality of food is more important than the quantity of food. By doing your best to include high-nutrient foods in meals, you’ll be making a positive impact on your loved one’s overall dietary health and wellness. Here are some of the most beneficial foods for dementia patients.
1. Whole Grains
While refined grains should be avoided, whole grains offer a host of benefits, including improved digestion and lowered cholesterol levels. And studies also report that those who incorporate a lot of whole grains into their diet have a 14 percent lower risk of stroke.
Whole grains are relatively easy to incorporate into daily meal plans. For example, simple-to-prepare whole grains like oatmeal, quinoa, and brown rice are all high in fiber, zinc, magnesium, and protein. For breakfast, try incorporating oats, unsweetened granola, whole wheat bread, and high-fiber cereals.
2. Fruits and Vegetables
Fruits and vegetables are packed with vitamins A, C, and E — as well as magnesium, zinc, and folic acid. Munching on these delicious gifts from nature is an excellent way for anyone, including older adults, to decrease inflammation and lower blood pressure.
Some of the most powerful fruits and vegetables are broccoli, tomatoes, avocados, blueberries, raspberries, and cherries. Leafy green vegetables, including kale, spinach, and lettuce, are also excellent. For an extra boost of potassium, incorporate sweet potatoes, bananas, and prunes into your loved one’s meals.
3. Lean Protein Foods
Packed with zinc, iron, and vitamin B12, protein is the essential building block of a strong body. Some of the most powerful proteins are:
- White-fleshed fish like cod, halibut, or bass
- Plain greek yogurt
- Bean, peas, and lentils
- White-meat poultry
- Lean beef
- Low-fat milk
- Egg whites
4. Fish and Omega-3 Oils
Fish is a low-fat, high-quality protein boasting a high concentration of omega-3 fatty acids, which are strongly linked to optimal health and brain function. In fact, numerous observational studies show that people who eat more fish have slower rates of mental decline. While salmon and tuna are among the most popular types of fish, don’t be afraid to incorporate other fish into mealtimes. Cod, mackerel, and trout are just a few of the other types of fish that might be available at your local supermarket.
Nutrients Matter Most
Planning meals for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or dementia can be challenging — but also rewarding. The best foods for dementia patients to eat are vast and varied but they all have powerful benefits. So that provides caregivers a lot of flexibility and freedom when it comes to preparing meals.
We place tremendous importance on creating nutritious and delicious meals at the Moments. Our culinary team incorporates fresh, nutrient-rich ingredients into every meal, and mealtimes are some of the most enjoyable moments our residents experience every day.
Visit us to learn more!