Nutrition in Alzheimer's Disease

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Most people may say that Alzheimer's disease or dementia has somehow affected our lives and that with the aging of America, the number of people affected by the disease continues to grow. The concept of dementia describes a number of diseases and conditions that develop when brain neurons no longer function properly, causing changes in memory, behavior and thinking ability. There are many types of dementia, but Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form, accounting for 60-80% of dementia. One of the 9-year-olds aged 65 and over, one in 85 and older, is AD.

Alzheimer's disease is irreversible and progressive over time, mild to moderate, severe. Treatment can slow down development and sometimes help treat symptoms but no cure. The time from diagnosis to death varies between 3 and 4 years for the elderly, while those younger than the diagnosis last for 10 years. The health cost of AD is significant for the US health care system. The average cost per person of people with AD and other forms of dementia is three times higher than those without such conditions.

Risk Factors of Alzheimer's Disease

Some risk factors for Alzheimer's disease, such as age and genetic profile, cannot be controlled. However, certain lifestyle factors such as nutritious diet, exercise, social commitment and mentally stimulating efforts can help reduce the risk of cognitive decline and AD. Scientists are looking for a link between cognitive decline and heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and obesity. Understanding these relationships will help you understand whether reducing the risk factors for these diseases can help with Alzheimer's.

More and more evidence suggests that certain dietary ingredients (such as antioxidant nutrients, fish, unsaturated fats, B vitamins, and omega-3 fatty acids) can help in age-related cognitive decline and protection against AD. As research unfolds, health professionals may be able to change diet and / or lifestyle to prevent AD.

Medical Nutrition Therapy For Alzheimer's Disease

A comprehensive nutritional assessment should be a routine part of AD care. Many problems may affect the nutritional status of a person suffering from AD, but each person has a different dietary diagnosis and a nutritional prescription.

Drugs or poorly fitted dentures can affect food. Due to the decrease in cognitive status, changes in neurological functions can lead to eating problems such as inattention, reasoning and feeling of hunger, thirst and saturation. As AD advances, the individual can forget how to use the cutlery, forget to chew it without an oral warning and forget how to swallow it. Motor skills can be reduced, which necessitates nutritional support. Inability to migrate and consume the right nutrients can contribute to unwanted weight loss, which is often inevitable in patients with advanced dementia. Researchers say this is due to the disease process, although the exact causes are unclear.

No diet is recommended for the treatment of AD. Each person needs unique nutritional interventions depending on the condition, symptoms and stage of the disease. Possible interventions are:

• Changing the eating environment: Providing a quiet environment, without interruption. Restrict your choices if you provide a platter of dishes at the same time. Use colorful dishes to differentiate food from the plate.

• Common, nutrient-dense foods. Enhanced foods or oral supplements provide additional calories to those who need it.

• Finger foods and / or adaptive nutrition devices that facilitate self-support, cueing and / or nutritional help for those who need it.

• Consistency-modified diet for those with difficulty in chewing or swallowing.

Therapeutic diets limiting sodium, concentrated sweets, or other dietary ingredients are generally not recommended for people with end-stage AD, since the primary purpose of the treatment is to prevent unwanted weight loss and the best possible quality of life.

Dangerous Nutrition Problems

When eating, an AD with advanced AD is reduced, families and / or responsible persons may consider placing a PEG tube for artificial nutrition and hydration. However, nutritional tubes are rarely effective in improving nutrition, maintaining increased protein intake, preventing aspiration pneumonia, minimizing suffering, improving functional status, or prolonging the life of dementia patients. Based on the available evidence, most experts agree that feeding food and liquids is recommended for the best quality of life in life-threatening care rather than feeding the tube. Following the evidence, some families will ask for the tube to be fed. A registered dietitian nutritionist may provide information and guidance to families on how to feed the tubes and treat the complications.

When a person with end-stage dementia is manually fed, food and fluids should be modified as necessary to address ease of consumption or swallowing problems. Individuals should be encouraged to consume foods that are comfortable or bring with them joy or good memories. Unlike feeding the tube, manual dosing does not correspond to 100% of the nutritional and fluid requirements. At the same time, it meets other important basic needs, such as the food process, the taste and texture of food, human touch and interaction, and the routine of sharing food with others.

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