The things your aging loved one with dementia eats and drinks literally feed his or her brain the nutrients it needs to function well. On the other hand, your loved one’s diet can also damage his or her ability to think clearly. Naturally, you already know your loved one should be eating a diet filled with vitamin-rich fresh produce, but you should also be aware of these foods that could do more harm than good.
1. Fried Foods
Frying requires heating fat and oils to high temperatures that alter their chemical makeup. During the process of frying, chemicals called advanced glycation end products are produced. These chemicals are associated with neural inflammation, which is especially unhealthy for people with dementia. It has also been found that people who eat a lot of fried foods have more amyloid protein plaques in their brains than those who limit fried foods in their diets.
Many seniors with dementia find it challenging to plan and prepare healthy meals. In New Hampshire, elder 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.
For many years, margarine was considered a healthy alternative to butter. While margarine does have lower fat content, in most cases it also has higher levels of trans fats and unhealthy chemicals. Diacetyl, a chemical that’s in both margarine and microwave popcorn, is known to contribute to the development of beta-amyloid proteins, which are bad for brain health. Since butter also comes with its own problems, you should try finding alternatives for your loved one to enjoy. Mashed avocado has a similar texture when it’s spread on toast or bread, and it contains high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for the brain.
This beverage may seem like it might help seniors perk up, since many types of soda contain caffeine. However, soda also contains chemicals and high amounts of sugar that interfere with proper brain functioning. Soda with caffeine can also have a dehydrating effect on the brain. Offer your loved one water to drink instead. If your parent wants something with flavor, consider fruit-infused water, which can also help him or her achieve healthy nutritional goals.
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 senior home care families can trust. We also offer comprehensive care for seniors with dementia, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s.
4. Packaged Foods with MSG
Monosodium glutamate (MSG) causes symptoms such as headaches, and this chemical is found in many processed foods, such as chips and salad dressing. The food additive, which is used as a preservative as well as a flavor enhancer, affects the central nervous system and can cause changes in the brain as well as behavior. Make sure to also watch out for sauces that include MSG as an ingredient. Use fresh foods for your loved one’s meals as much as possible to avoid accidentally adding MSG to his or her diet.
5. Processed Meats
Many older adults love sausage and bacon for breakfast or deli meat sandwiches for lunch. While these foods are fine in moderation, you should limit them in your loved one’s daily diet. Processed meat has high levels of nitrites that cause the liver to release toxic compounds that travel to the brain, where they limit functionality.
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. New Hampshire 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 your loved one needs assistance with the challenges of aging, reach out to one of our knowledgeable, compassionate Care Managers today at (603) 471-3004.