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Malnutrition as a Result of Alzheimer's Disease?

Some of the most difficult aspects of Alzheimer's disease are the problems associated with eating and drinking. This can be as mild as coping with a food fad or as serious as malnutrition.

It's quite common for Alzheimer's sufferers to develop food fads. These are exasperating as it's difficult to make an adult eat, especially if they are stronger than their carer or they have developed a fear or severe dislike of what they are being given. It can be an extremely challenging situation for any carer to find themselves in.

It's naturally important to ensure the Alzheimer's sufferer receives a well balanced and nourishing diet. It is also important but more difficult to ensure that they also have sufficient fluid intake.

Fluids may be an integral part of anyone's diet, but Alzheimer's patients may forget or not bother to ask for a drink. It's surprisingly easy for this to go unnoticed and for a carer not to realise that their fluid intake is insufficient, especially in hot weather or if the central heating is on full blast. To avoid these problems drinks should be offered on a regular basis and a cold drink left nearby to remind the Alzheimer's sufferer to take fluids.

Fruit and vegetables are essential as they provide the vitamins and fibre needed to keep the body well nourished. Further fibre can be obtained by consuming wholegrain bread and biscuits and an excellent way of ensuring vitamin C is consumed is by offering orange juice.

Medical assistance may be required if the patient spits out their food or refuses to eat as they may have some gum disease or intestinal problem. Their dentures may have become loose fitting or they may have lost their sensation of taste. They may also experience difficulty in swallowing which could be a sign of more serious problems.

care givers should also ensure that the Alzheimer's sufferer is having their bowels open on a regular basis. This is because constipation is one of the leading causes of a loss of appetite and if left untreated it can lead on to more serious malnutrition. Regular medication (laxatives) can be prescribed to reduce these symptoms while adequate fluid levels will also help.

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