Cognitive- Cognitive changes associated with dementia can affect eating, drinking and the individual’s nutritional needs. For example, at meal times they may forget to eat or drink so they may need assistance whether that be full or prompting. If they are at home they may forget things like turning the cookers off or any other hot appliances.
Functional-Functional changes associated with dementia could be were the individual is able to feed and drink themselves but they may struggle at times to hold the cutlery and cups themselves.
Emotional-Emotional changes that associated with dementia could be if an individual is distressed, upset or not feeling to good, this may cause them to forget to eat and drink as they are unable to think about anything else as they are too distressed/upset.
An individual who has dementia may have a poor appetite it is vital that they have a balanced diet, sometimes with dementia it can cause problems with their food and fluid intake. If this occurs we must try reach a solution that is the perfect on to meet the individual’s needs and to suit them. For example, if an individual has a specific belief/culture it is important to respect this and to make sure they are given the specific care, nutrients, fluid and food. If the individual doesn’t eat and get the nutrients that are needed this could lead to weight loss or infections.
An example of how other health and emotional conditions may affect the nutritional needs of an individual with dementia could be depression. Depression could lead to them having a poor or even no appetite. For example, an individual may rather stay at home and not go out which would lead to no social life to which this may cause them to not eat or drink due to how they are feeling. This would affect the nutritional needs as if they weren’t to eat or drink they wouldn’t have no nutrition intake. If this is to happen it is important to make sure you offer a different selection of food and fluids, ask them on a regular basis, and be supportive.
It is important to recognise and meet and individuals personal and cultural preferences for food and fluids as if they enjoy and like the fluids and food you give them they may eat and drink, they will also feel like you respect their wishes and their culture. Giving individuals options regarding food and drinks is important as they will get familiar with these options. For example, if an individual is vegetarian you would make sure this is prepared separately to meats, and that they have a few options rather than just the one. Also having picture cards of the food choice may help a lot as they will be able to see what it looks like If they can’t remember what it is.
It’s very important to include a variety of food and drinks in the diet of an individual with dementia. This gives them a choice. For example, an individual may have forgot what it tastes like, to which they may have enjoyed it before the dementia. It’s important to always have a variety of food to which the food has got enough nutrients in this.
Mealtime cultures and environments can be a barrier to meeting the nutritional needs of an individual with dementia as if they have certain beliefs, such as, eating at set times, on their own, set food and portions sizes. For example, if a three-course meal was put in front of someone who suffers with dementia they may not understand why they was three plates with food on, it may cause them not to eat due to it overpowering them.
Mealtime environments and food presentation can be designed to help and individual to eat and drink. For example, if the table cloth, plate/bow and food was all the same colour they may thing there is nothing there on the plate/bowl to help this making the table cloth, plates, bowls and food a different colour will help them identify the foods.
A person-centred approach can support and individual with dementia at different levels. For example, treating everyone as an individual and allowing them to make their choices. Making sure they are fully supported every day. Individuals with dementia are still able to make choices themselves. Always offer different meal/drink options, this allows them to make a choice to their best preference.