How to Eat Well With Alzheimer's Disease
There’s no special diet for people with Alzheimer's disease, but good nutrition can ease some symptoms and help them feel good. When you’re caring for someone with the condition, there are simple ways you can make eating healthier, easier, and more enjoyable.
Remember the Basics
The basic rules of a healthy diet apply to everyone, whether they have Alzheimer’s or not. Build a meal plan that helps your loved one:
- Eat a variety of foods, especially fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy.
- Keep a healthy weight. Proper portion sizes and exercise are a key part of this, too.
- Limit foods with high saturated fat and cholesterol, like fatty meats and fried foods.
- Cut down on sugar.
- Avoid eating too much salt.
- Drink plenty of water.
Mind the Medications
Ask your loved one’s health care team if there are any foods or drinks that can keep the medicines she takes from working.
Also check if any of the meds affect her appetite, bowel movements, or cause other problems that can affect her nutrition. Her doctor may be able to change the dose or suggest another drug that will ease side effects.
Some Alzheimer’s medications can cause constipation. It can also happen if someone doesn’t eat or drink enough. Make sure your loved one:
- Gets plenty of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains in her diet. These are great sources of fiber, which can help curb constipation.
- Drinks enough water and other fluids.
- Stays active. Exercise can help get things moving in the bathroom, too.
Ease Dry Mouth
Someone with Alzheimer’s may not drink enough water because her body's signal for thirst isn’t as strong as it was. Some medicines can dry out her mouth, too. Remind your loved one to drink water, and try other ways to avoid dry mouth:
- Dunk breads, toast, cookies, or crackers in milk, hot chocolate, or tea to soften them.
- Remind her to take a drink after each bite of food to moisten her mouth and help her swallow.
- Add broth or sauces to foods to make them softer and wetter.
- Offer sour candy or fruit ice to help her mouth make more saliva.