When a loved one is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, or is faced with another serious memory loss condition, there is a good chance they will require professional memory care services at some point. Finding a continuing care retirement community (CCRC, or “life plan” community) with memory care will make life for the patient, loved ones, and caregivers more comfortable and enjoyable.
Click above to learn what to look for in a memory care community.
Dementia is the loss of memory, cognitive reasoning, awareness of environment, judgment, abstract thinking, or the ability to perform activities of daily living. The most common form of dementia is Alzheimer’s disease, a type of dementia that involves slowly developing symptoms that get worse over time. Dementia resulting from vitamin deficiencies, or caused by underlying disease (such as brain tumors and infections) may be reversible. Other forms of dementia, such as Alzheimer’s and vascular dementia, are not reversible, and are often treated with medications.
As dementia progresses, changes can occur that may affect someone’s ability to obtain adequate food and nutrients to maintain their health status. Such changes will vary depending on the type of dementia, as well as the stage of the disease. Some of these changes include:
- Altered sense of smell and/or taste
- Inability to recognize food or distinguish between food and non-food items
- Poor appetite
- Chewing difficulties (pocketing food, repetitive chewing, etc.)
- Swallowing difficulties
- Forgetting to eat
- Shortened attention span leading to a loss of interest in eating
- Difficulty using eating utensils
- Increase in pacing or walking
- Drug side effects
The symptoms of dementia vary, and the treatment and nutrition care should be determined by these symptoms. Some techniques to consider for continued delivery of food and nutrition include:
- Provide kind reminders to eat.
- Provide meals in a low stress environment, minimizing noise and visual
- Develop a meal routine that can be repeated over time, to provide meals at
- similar times, or even similar meals every day.
- Have someone eat with the individual to provide assistance and reminders
- on how to eat.
- Have family join the individual at meal times to encourage eating.
- Pay attention to other health issues, such as infections, fevers, injuries, or
- other illnesses, as these may increase food and fluid needs.
- Provide well-liked food and drinks to encourage eating.
- Limit the amount of food served at one time so as not to overwhelm.
Provide finger-type foods for individuals struggling to use utensils:
- French fries
- Carrot sticks
Check with a dietitian or doctor for any specific dietary needs.
In June 2013, two residents of Wesley Glen began reviewing research on how physical and mental activity could affect the onslaught of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. Some initial research was based on a book entitled “Now You Can See It,” by Cathy Davidson, and other research in “brain training” performed at The University of California, San Francisco (UCSF). A focus group was formed under the leadership of CEO, Margaret Carmany, of Methodist ElderCare Services.
Ms. Carmany states, “All residents and employees of Wesley Glen and Wesley Ridge are very interested in this new research. We have all seen the devastating effects of brain function deterioration first-hand in those we love.”
The residents at Wesley Glen and Wesley Ridge Retirement Communities are encouraged to participate in a range of activities, from brain games and physical fitness classes, to spiritual and social interaction groups. In addition, the program is now expanding to train administration and staff members in the benefits of getting involved to encourage residents to engage in brain fitness activities. Research shows that good nutrition and being mentally, physically and spiritually fit may provide our aging population with preventative maintenance against the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
It is projected that by 2050, 1 in 85 people will have Alzheimer’s disease and/or dementia, and Methodist ElderCare Services will be a leading source of information and action to the local community.
Methodist ElderCare Services is an affiliate of the West Ohio Conference of The United Methodist Church that provides quality housing, health care and services for seniors in Central Ohio. Incorporated in 1967, Methodist ElderCare Services continues to be a not-for-profit Ohio corporation that seeks to understand and meet the unmet needs of older people of Central Ohio. Methodist ElderCare Services operates Wesley Glen Retirement Community, Wesley Ridge Retirement Community, Wesley At Home and Hospice Services at Methodist ElderCare in Columbus, Ohio.
To schedule a tour or for more information about Methodist ElderCare Services communities, visit www.methodisteldercare.org
5155 North High Street
Columbus, Ohio 43214