Brain Health Week #2: Ways to Encourage Nutrition at home

Did you know that you can literally eat your way to a healthier brain?

Nutrition plays a large role in brain health and wellness. Foods rich in Omega 3 and antioxidants can help remove toxins known as free radicals from your brain. Antioxidants work by sweeping away the toxins. There are nutrients in foods that can prevent or slow oxidative damage to our bodies.

When our body cells use oxygen, which we can’t live without, they naturally produce free radicals (by-products or toxins), which can cause damage. Antioxidants act as “free radical scavengers” and prevent and repair the damage done by these free radicals. JEA’s Meaningful Moments® Signature Dining Cornerstone embraces brain health by combining brain-healthy snacks with physical wellbeing.

JEA’s formalized “Dash to Dine” program provides 3 additional opportunities each day to walk our residents to the dining room to enjoy a healthy snack and beverage! Read on for helpful tips to promote nutrition for your senior loved one at home.

 

Ways to Encourage Nutrition at home

  • Serve small portions, large portions can be overwhelming and cause a loved one to not eat at all
  • Add spices, honey, and sugar to accommodate changing taste buds due to AD.
  • Cue. Hand over hand, mirroring/modeling, prompts and verbal cues can effectively get a loved one “started” at mealtime.
  • Sit down and enjoy a meal with them. Meals are social events. Your loved one may eat better if you eat with them.
  • Provide adaptive dishware and utensils to promote and encourage independence.
  • Take note of the surroundings. Is there too much commotion? Background noise? Is it too cold or hot?
  • If your loved one won’t sit still long enough to eat, provide finger foods so they can “scoop and go.” Finger foods are foods easily handled and eaten on the go.
  • Review their medication list. Medications can decrease appetites. There are also medications to stimulate appetites.
  • Provide the Signature Dining experience at home as we do at JEA! We eat with our eyes first. Make the food appealing.
  • Stimulate appetite through smell. Bake bread or cookies. Incorporate scent. The scent of chocolate, vanilla, coffee, or bread in a scent machine is another way to stimulate appetite.
  • Allow adequate time for your loved ones to consume their meal independently. It can be more time-consuming and easier for you to “assist” them with their meal’s but you have heard the saying “use it or lose it”? it is difficult to get back independence once it is taken away.
  • Encourage independence! Add rice to saltshakers and peppercorns to pepper shakers, this allows them to season food independently without the worry of over-seasoning.
  • Provide the correct utensils required to consume their meal. This not only promotes independence but restores dignity.
  • If able, allow them to help at mealtime by stirring and mixing or setting and clearing the tables. This is a long-term memory that comes automatically and gives purpose to someone with AD.

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