Meals are one of the constants that bring us together as humans. Food can reach us at a very primal place, and from a young age, we begin associating memories and feelings to different dishes.
The five senses all experience changes as we age, but dementia can affect some senses more than others, and every person is different. For some, aging and developing Alzheimer’s or other memory disorders can cause certain foods (even some that have been lifelong favorites) to lose their appeal. As taste buds change, a dementia patient’s experience of flavors changes along with them. For caregivers, this can make mealtimes stressful.
We discussed in our Healthy Eating for Dementia Patients blog post the different ways that memory loss can interfere with appetite and willingness to eat. We reviewed the Alzheimer’s Association’s tips on making mealtimes more productive, and many of those same tips apply when dealing with a dementia patient who no longer tastes things in the same way.
Because individuals with dementia can experience decreased flavor, they may begin to crave unhealthy additives like salt and excess sugar. It is important for caregivers and dietary managers – like Chef Galen Cloughly at Cross Creek – to keep this in mind and prepare creative meals that are full of variety, healthy flavor and plenty of protein and veggies.
Registered Dietician Jillian Ball reminds us to allow for indulgences as well, as food is something that can provide enjoyment towards the end of life, when many other hobbies are no longer accessible.
It can also help to make mealtimes a social event – this is why at Cross Creek at Lee’s Summit, residents are strongly encouraged to take their meals alongside their neighbors in one of the beautifully designed, restaurant-style dining rooms. If you would like to learn more about how Cross Creek is designed for those with memory impairment, call our office at 816.607.5700 or fill out an information request form here to schedule a tour.