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Dementia is a disease that affects over 747,000 Canadians, and can have detrimental effects on individuals and caretakers for those living with this disease. Although there is no cure for Dementia, nutrition still has a large impact on the possible prevention and management of it. 


Prevention of Dementia

What we eat can often have an impact on our brain, and this has led researchers to see if there are any eating patterns that can help prevent or slow down the onset of Dementia and other cognitive diseases. 

  • Mediterranean Diet:
    • Emphasis on fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, seafood, unsaturated fats, low amounts of red meat, added sugar, eggs
    • It has been shown that those that eat in this way may have a reduced risk of dementia and slower rates of cognitive decline compared to a typical Western diet (high in meats, saturated fats, sugars, less fruits,vegetables, whole grains, fish etc.) 
    • This may be because eating fish has shown to help slow down cognitive decline; additionally the Mediterranean diet is high in nutrients that have antioxidants (prevent free radicals) 
  •  Gut Microbiome
    • The gut microbiome is full of different bacteria and microbes that play an integral role in our digestive systems 
    • It has been seen that changes in the gut microbiome may be linked to cognitive diseases such as Alzheimer’s 
    • Taking pre and probiotics may be a good idea to help with one’s gut microbiome 

Why having good nutrition is important for those with Dementia 

For all people, good nutrition is important to maintain our immune system, biological functions and to fuel us for our day-to-day lives. When caring for those with dementia, it can sometimes be hard to ensure that they are receiving adequate nutrition. This is because people with dementia may forget to eat, may not have the ability to cook for themselves and may have trouble with cutlery

Foods to prioritize for those with Dementia

  • Maintain a good variety of nutritious foods 
  • Drink lots of water
  • Eat lots of vegetables, whole grains, fruits 
  • Eat lower amounts of saturated fats, added sugars, and salt 
  • Eat foods high in calcium 

Common problems and how to fix them 

  • Forgetting to eat 
      • Using an alarm clock that reminds them to eat 
      • Getting a family member to call them to remind them to eat 
      • Leave foods that are shelf-stable out to encourage them to eat 
  • Inability to cook meals 
      • Utilize services such as Meals-on-Wheels
      • Consider hiring a caretaker who can cook meals 
      • Utilize ready-to-eat meals from supermarkets 
      • Take turns cooking for your loved ones
      • Prepare large quantities of food to freeze
      • Order food to be delivered
  • Difficulty with cutlery 
    • Prepare foods that can be eaten with hands 
    • Don’t overwhelm them with too much on the table 
    • Eat with the person you are caring for 

Caring for those with Dementia 

Those that are caring for those with dementia need to realize that there are often difficulties with eating and drinking for those with dementia 

  • Keeping the meal routine consistent is important, as changing their routine or diet may make eating and drinking more difficult 
  • Be mindful of what your loved ones like to eat and drink, and what they dislike 
  • Don’t rush the person when eating 
  • Allow them to be independent 
  • Consider nutritional supplements 

All in all, nutrition is vital for cognitive health, but unfortunately not everything can be prevented through nutrition. If you or a loved one is affected by Dementia, don’t be afraid to reach out to a Dietitian for further guidance and tips.