Every year, most families get together for Christmas and New Year holidays to spend time together. These are days to celebrate and it is undeniable the effect it may have: also to the ones who live with Alzheimer's Disease. In two weeks many holidays are concentrated, dates that modify the routine that's so necessary for people affected by Alzheimer's.
From Fundació ACE we want to help families that have someone affected by dementia to approach the menus in a simple way. Therefore, the purpose of this decalogue is to favor that the time to sit at the table at Christmas is a pleasant experience for all.
Natàlia Tantinyà, nurse of the Daycare Unit, points out that the alteration of the routine and the changes in the alimentary behavior that people with dementia can suffer generate limitations for patients and their families.
That is why it is crucial to do a good planning of the menus and to organize the environment to favor the tranquility of the affected person.
Texture and appearance of the dishes are fundamental but it is also important:
- Serve food in a relaxed environment in which the affected person feels comfortable and protected. It is important to avoid distractions, since many have difficulty concentrating.
- Prepare dishes in very small portions and very chopped to facilitate chewing.
- Prepare juicy recipes, taking into account the smell and presentation, prevent the patient to retain food in the mouth and awaken the desire to eat.
- Whenever possible, maintain a non-crushed diet, as the mixture of food with saliva promotes digestion.
- To eliminate the thorns of the fish, that although being a very suitable food in a soft diet, can cause serious problems in the swallowing if it is not free of raspas.
- Incorporate foods rich in fiber and waste, such as legumes, fruits and vegetables, to prevent constipation.
- Procure a balanced and varied diet both in food and in ways of cooking. Apply the ration system, grouping food by its main functions and where the consumption of a certain number of these ensures a balanced supply of nutrients. For example: 3 servings of dairy, 4 servings of farinaceous, 3 servings of fruit, 2 servings of vegetables, 2 servings of meat and 3 servings of fat.
- Use a crockery, cutlery and tableware that draw attention for its color and not present any danger to the diner. We can serve the dishes combined the colors of the dishes with the food to encourage the interest of the patient. For example: a red dish with white rice, peas and fried eggs.
- Make sure that the affected person enjoys the moment without getting excessively tired. In this sense, it is advisable to prepare unique dishes that contain the first and the second in one, for example: stew meat with potatoes and vegetables.
- To the extent possible, preserve the schedule and routines at lunchtime as it will facilitate orientation and provide security.
It is important to remember that the person with Alzheimer's disease loses cognitive but not emotional abilities during the course of the disease.
They are able to enjoy, feel and suffer like any other. Making them feel loved, respected, being part of the family or the group is the best gift we can give them: Christmas days that bring comfort and happiness for all.