The body’s health and strength depend on nutrition. Dementia patients require special attention due to this fact. Poor nutrition can lead to weight loss and behavioural changes in people with Alzheimer’s or Dementia. And sadly, seniors may suffer from poor nutrition for various reasons. However, when it comes to eating, dementia patients do not have to be limited by their inability to chew. In fact, those with difficulty chewing and swallowing can benefit from a mechanical soft diet. Now is the time to think beyond mashed potatoes and purees – while they are delicious, there’s more to soft food than just blending it. Read on to find out about soft foods for Alzheimer’s patients.
- 1 What is Soft Food?
- 2 How Common Is Dysphagia in Dementia Patients?
- 3 Signs and Symptoms of Dysphagia
- 4 Which Foods Are Best for Seniors With Swallowing Issues?
- 5 Dairy Products for Dementia Patients
- 6 Soft Foods for Alzheimer’s Patients: Fruits
- 7 Vegetables as a Soft Food for Dementia Patients
- 8 Grain Products for Dementia Patients
- 9 Tips for Seniors When Following a Soft Food Diet
- 10 Final words
What is Soft Food?
In the context of Nutrition for Older Adults, soft food means meals that are easy to chew and swallow and don’t have a hard texture. By following such a diet, seniors with difficulty chewing or swallowing can continue to eat balanced, nutritious meals with soft foods. To make soft diet foods easier to swallow, they are usually somewhat soft and moist naturally, although they may also be pureed or mashed and moistened with water.
A correct and efficient swallow requires the cooperation of five bodily systems, including the nervous system. But sometimes Dysphagia (Difficulty Swallowing) makes things a bit complicated. Find out what Dysphagia is, its relation to Dementia, and how to cope by reading on.
How Common Is Dysphagia in Dementia Patients?
Dysphagia refers to trouble swallowing. It is possible for someone with Dementia to have difficulty chewing food. It is common for them to forget to chew or to get tired easily. Dysphagia can cause weight loss, malnutrition, and dehydration. In drowsy situations or while lying down, the person may have difficulty swallowing safely, resulting in choking.
Dementia is estimated to be preventable by various methods and lifestyle changes in one out of three cases. With knowledge of Dementia and understanding its difficulties, all prevention methods are worth investigating. In this regard,
The use of supplements in preventing Dementia and Alzheimer’s has been the focus of several scientific studies. For example, researchers have suggested regularly consuming Supplements to Prevent Dementia.
Signs and Symptoms of Dysphagia
There are several reasons why seniors who have Dementia may experience Dysphagia, including:
- Food or liquids are difficult to swallow
- Pain when swallowing
- Frequent heartburn
- Gagging, coughing, or choking when swallowing
- Stomach or throat pain caused by stuck food
- Pressure in the chest
- Food coming back up (regurgitation)
As with dementia manifestations, dysphagia symptoms can worsen over time, and the severity varies depending on where the problem occurs. When you or a loved one have difficulty swallowing regularly, you should consult your doctor. Dysphagia can occur due to weight loss, regurgitation, or vomiting.
Which Foods Are Best for Seniors With Swallowing Issues?
‘Soft diets’ consist of foods blended or mashed into a soft consistency. There is no restriction on the types of foods you can eat on a soft diet. Similarly to other diets, it is nutrient-dense. Food groups are listed below, along with some dietary suggestions:
Dairy Products for Dementia Patients
There are generally safe and easy-to-swallow dairy products included in soft diets.
The following items are acceptable:
- Ice cream
- Cottage cheese
- Cream cheese
Underweight seniors can add cheese as a sauce to many dishes, rather than complex pieces such as cubes or slices, as an excellent source of calories. It is essential to understand that even though there are many dairy options to choose from
There are a few you should avoid. Among them are:
- Eggs that are overcooked and fried
- Cheese cubes or other hard cheese
- Cheese topping with stringy, crisp edges (for instance, on casseroles)
- Yogurt with large fruit pieces or granola
Soft Foods for Alzheimer’s Patients: Fruits
Most fruits are difficult to swallow for seniors with Dysphagia, so creative solutions are required.
Make a smoothie containing various fruits your loved one enjoys blended very finely.
The following are the best soft foods for Alzheimer’s patients:
- Baked apples
- Cooked pears
- Ripe kiwi
- Chopped grapes
We recommend that you or a loved one consume 100% fruit juice or nectar if you can tolerate thin liquids.
There are several fruits you should avoid, including:
- Fruits in jellied desserts
- Dried Fruits
- Fruits with hard seeds (for example, raspberries and blackberries)
Vegetables as a Soft Food for Dementia Patients
Vegetables are essential to a healthy diet, so find ways to incorporate them into your daily diet. Getting more vegetables into your diet is easy with green smoothies. Add some honey or agave syrup if you want them to be sweeter. Here are a few other safe options:
- Vegetables cooked in soft, diced form (for example, carrots and squash)
- Vegetables (for example, peas and spinach) mashed together
- Finely shredded salads
- Mashed potatoes
- Sweet corn canned in cream
- Minced vegetables (for example, broccoli and green beans)
The following options are unsafe:
- Crispy and dry French fries or hash browns
- Vegetables with a “stringy” texture (such as celery or string beans)
- Whole kernel corn, even in soup
- Raw, hard vegetables (such as broccoli and carrot sticks)
Grain Products for Dementia Patients
Nutrient-rich grains contribute to a healthy diet thanks to their fibre and nutrients. Here are some safe grain consumption options:
- Hot cereals (such as oatmeal or oat bran)
- Soft, moist bread items (such as biscuits and muffins) topped with butter or another spread
- Waffles or pancakes topped with applesauce or syrup
- Pasta with sauce
Unsafe grain options include:
- Rice that is dry and loose
- Bread that is dry or chewy
- Cereals with dried fruit or chocolate chips
- Crunchy cereal bars
- Dry pizza crust
Tips for Seniors When Following a Soft Food Diet
Along with following a soft food diet, there are a few other options a senior can consider, including:
- After eating, stay upright for at least 30-60 minutes
- Maintaining a small, frequent meal and snack schedule
- Spices and herbs can help to add flavour to your diet
- When serving soft food, ensure that it is hot – soft food loses heat more quickly
- Adults should avoid baby foods since they are poorly nutrient dense
During the disease, appetite loss and weight loss may become a huge concern. A doctor may suggest supplements to increase calories between meals or offer Tips That Help Seniors Live a Healthy Lifestyle. Soft foods for Alzheimer’s patients can also benefit those with difficulty chewing and swallowing; this time, our suggestions went beyond mashed potatoes and purees.