Eating and drinking

Good nutrition is important. The type of food we eat affects our health and our quality of life. Poorly nourished people get sick more often and recover from injury and illness more slowly. Poor nutrition is a major health problem for many older people.

Maintaining good nutrition may present an extra challenge as you may:-

• Experience a loss of appetite
• Develop an insatiable appetite or a craving for sweets
• Forget to eat and drink
• Have difficulties chewing or swallowing
• Experience a dry mouth, or mouth discomfort

Daily nutritional balance

Dietary guidelines recommend:-

• Enjoying a wide variety of nutritious foods
• Eating at least three meals every day
• Drinking plenty of water
• Eating plenty of vegetables (including legumes) and fruit
• Eating plenty of cereals, bread and pastas
• Eating a diet low in saturated fats
• Choosing foods low in salt and using salt sparingly
• Including foods high in calcium
• Using added sugars in moderation

Some common problems:-

If you find you are forgetting to eat and drink try:

• An alarm clock, or a phone call, they may be a useful reminder at mealtimes

• Snacks that are easy to eat and don't need to be refrigerated can be left out where they can be easily seen to remind you to eat

• Leave a cold drink on the table to remind you to keep drinking regularly

If you feel nervous or worried about preparing meals yourself try:

• A meal delivery service:

Age Concern - Provides reasonably-priced frozen meals, including vegetarian options and meals for those who have eating/swallowing difficulties. Meals can be delivered on a standing order basis and they will also provide a small freezer free of charge.

Phone 01534 870354 on Mondays, Tuesdays or Thursdays between 9.30am and 12.30pm

Meals on Wheels - Offers a reasonably-priced hot meal delivery service from Tuesday to Friday inclusive. Meals are delivered ready to eat in a hot box and can be kept warm. They should not be re-heated once they are cold.

Phone 01534 853737 for further information

Other tips:

• Speak to your Social Worker or Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) at the Memory Clinic about someone coming in to assist with meal preparation

• Buy pre-prepared meals from the supermarket

• Ask family and friends for help with preparing meals, they may like to stay and enjoy the meal with you

• Ask family and friends to prepare large quantities of food, then freeze into meal size amounts to put in your freezer

• Home delivered ready-to-eat food from restaurants

• Stock up on healthy snacks such as yoghurt, cheese or dried fruit that do not need preparation or cooking

Alcohol may stimulate the appetite and add to the enjoyment of a meal. However, too much alcohol can replace food and people can run the risk of becoming malnourished. To ensure you drink in moderate amounts try:-

• Eating first before you drink alcohol, drinking on an empty stomach is never a good thing

• Try drinks other than alcohol

• Water alcohol down

If you are having difficulty with cutlery, finger foods can be a nutritious and easy alternative. Finger foods are simply foods prepared so that they can be eaten with the fingers. Try:-

• Preparing a plate of nutritious and attractive food that doesn't need to be eaten with cutlery.

• Try using a plate with no pattern so you don't get confused as to what is food and what isn't.

• Your taste and smell senses may have changed. The preparation of tasty, strongly flavoured and aromatic food may help.

Did you know?

Dementia is a progressive disease (meaning that it gets worse over time) that usually starts later in life and lasts for the rest of a person's life.