Dementia is an umbrella term used to describe a set of symptoms and behaviours that occur when the brain stops working properly. This results in loss of independent function for that person.
Daily brain exercises may help decrease your risk of developing dementia by building cognitive reserve.
This page will help you to find local services in relation to dementia quickly and efficiently.
If you are living with dementia, this section offers some practical advice on living your life to the full.
Within communities people are taking action, big and small steps that make a difference in the everyday lives of people with dementia. Find out what actions you can take and the supports available.
Businesses or service providers can make a big difference to the quality of life of people with dementia and their families. Find out what actions you can take and the supports available.
A community champion inspires others to make a positive difference to people living with dementia and their families. Find out how you can become a community champion and the supports available.
How to diminish the risk factors and reduce the risk of developing dementia.
Dementia can lead to changes in appetite and sense of taste and smell, which can reduce the person’s desire to eat. Some people with dementia have difficulties with sight and perception, and so can struggle with using cutlery. Some people won’t recognise cutlery or remember its purpose, and will prefer to pick up food from a plate with their fingers.
It is also the case that a person with dementia may lose their sense of time, and so forget to eat. Equally, they may have difficulty associating feelings of hunger with the need for food. These are all things that we take for granted but, for a person with dementia, they may be challenging.
Dementia can also result in difficulties in chewing and swallowing. Because of these difficulties, the person may need longer to eat each meal, and so they may eat less.
If you are supporting a person with dementia, it can be upsetting to see them struggle with eating and drinking, and to see weight loss or weight gain. However, plenty can be done to help a person with dementia to continue to enjoy food and eating.
Here are some things you can do to help the person with dementia in preparing for meal-times:
If they are not eating three meals every day, encourage snacks and finger foods. They can be very nourishing and can be easier to eat than larger meals.
GPs and public health nurses are a good first port of call for useful advice on improving protein and calorie intake. Sometimes, they will refer the person with dementia to a dietitian for further assessment and advice. The GP or the dietitian may recommend oral nutritional supplements – typically drinks or puddings with extra calories and protein. If a person with dementia is coughing during or after meals or having choking episodes, it is important to let their GP know. They will usually send a referral to a speech and language therapist, who will assess the person’s swallowing, with food and drinks of different consistencies, and give detailed advice.
A Practical Guide, Eating Well with Dementia, is available for download on the Alzheimer Society Website.
A HSE guide entitled ‘Nutrition and Dementia’ is available to download here
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