Caring for a senior loved one with dementia can present many challenges, including ones involving meals. For instance, you may encounter fussiness or confusion over what’s placed on a plate. However, it’s best to encourage your loved one to enjoy a diet that includes vegetables, fruits, lean proteins, and other healthy foods that can also be tasty with the right preparation efforts. But it’s just as important to stay away from certain foods, such as the ones mentioned below, when caring for a loved one with dementia.
A University of Minnesota study found a possible link between diacetyl (an ingredient in margarine) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common form of dementia. Specifically, researchers cite evidence showing diacetyl may contribute to the formation of the same type of protein clusters associated with AD. Healthier alternatives to margarine include:
- Pureed avocado or all-natural nut butter (for toast)
- Olive oil or coconut oil (for cooking)
- Greek yogurt or pumpkin puree (for baking)
Many seniors with dementia find it challenging to plan and prepare healthy meals. In Arlington, in-home care providers can benefit aging adults in a variety of ways. From cooking nutritious meals to offering timely medication reminders, the dedicated caregivers at Home Care Assistance are available to help your elderly loved one 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
2. Fried Foods
In general, people of all ages should avoid fried foods. Advanced glycation end products (AGEs) are chemicals released in fried foods that tend to make cells age faster, including ones in the brain. If your loved one already has dementia, a steady diet of fried foods may speed up brain cell damage. Steaming is a healthier cooking method.
3. Soda & Other Sugary Beverages
Soda and sugary drinks have been linked to diabetes, which, according to the Mayo Clinic, is considered a risk factor for vascular dementia. A study involving lab animals found changes occurred in their brains after nearly a month of being fed sugary water. These changes were observed in parts of the brain that control memory-related abilities, suggesting cognitive functions could be affected by consuming drinks containing sugar. Instead of soda and sugary beverages, encourage your loved one living with dementia to enjoy healthy beverages, such as:
- Herbal teas
- Homemade smoothies
- Sparkling water or coconut water
- Green tea
Trained caregivers can encourage healthy eating habits and help seniors with dementia avoid foods that can be harmful. If your senior loved one has been diagnosed with a serious condition and needs help with tasks like meal prep, transportation, bathing, and grooming, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of home care services families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
4. Processed Meats
Compounds called nitrosamines are often found in processed meats, such as ham, hot dogs, sausage, and salami. Nitrosamines cause the liver to produce fats that are considered toxic when they travel to the brain. These fats also have the potential to damage brain cells and make dementia-related symptoms worse. These same compounds can also be found in processed cheeses, certain types of beer, and refined grains.
5. Foods Containing MSG
Many people associate a flavor enhancer known as MSG (monosodium glutamate) with Chinese food. However, it’s also found in frozen dinners, certain snack foods, some brands of salad dressing, and other foods. For seniors with dementia, the issue with this food additive is that it can make dementia-related symptoms more noticeable or intense. Additionally, MSG has been associated with an increase in nervous system sensitivity and elevated levels of the beta amyloid protein related to Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.
Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with dementia. However, they can still live independently at home with the help of professional dementia care. Arlington families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide their elderly loved ones with mental and social stimulation, timely medication reminders, assistance with meal prep, and much more. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life. If you need professional in-home dementia care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (817) 591-1580.