Memory Care Programs Require a Strategic Approach to Nutrition

memory care dining altzheimer's

White Paper on Award Winning FreshBitesSM Program Now Available

By 2030, the number of people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s disease is projected to grow from 5.2 million to 8.2 million, barring the development of medical breakthroughs to prevent or cure the disease.  And Alzheimer’s is just one of many cognitive disorders impacting senior living communities across the country.  A new white paper entitled “Fresh Bites: A Hands-on Approach to Memory Care Dining” outlines an effective approach to dining and nutrition for the large percentage of memory care patients who lose the ability to feed themselves with utensils.

Dining plays an important multi-faceted role in the treatment of cognitive disorders. While there is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease, there is growing evidence that nutrition can play a role in delaying onset and, importantly, that a thoughtful approach to nutrition can delay progression. In an article in TuftsNow entitled “Feed Your Stem Cells,” scientists explore the theory that by changing diet and nutrition, patients may be able to limit inflammation of brain tissue and prevent or even reverse these degenerative diseases by giving neural stem cells the ability to heal the damage.fresh bites memory care program for dementia

Innovation teams at Unidine have been working with industry and research partners to challenge the status quo in memory care dining. “We heard from our senior living clients that weight loss and the inability to eat independently were often a catalyst for dementia disease progression. So we began working on solutions that would increase nutritional intake and provide a more dignified approach to dining for memory care patients,” explained Richard B. Schenkel, Unidine CEO and founder.

Following are several critical considerations related to dining solutions that senior living executives should address as they plan for the future:

  • Menu planning – from brain-boosting ingredients, to the frequency of meals to dexterity, there is much to consider.
  • Dining services staff competencies – understanding the skills required to appropriately meet the needs of this population.
  • Family involvement – how to involve family and help them understand the thoughtful nutrition approach required .
  • Community outreach –  creating connections with caregivers in the community through education and special events.
  • Individualized care – perhaps the most critical strategic component to serving people with cognitive disorders is the ability to partner with clinical staff to assess and deliver the right nutrition program for each individual.

Unidine’s portfolio of solutions for individualized care includes an innovative approach to serving those who are unable to use utensils. Fresh Bites translates traditional menu items, such as lasagna or salad, into finger foods – providing delicious meal options that enable dining with dignity. Access our white paper on Fresh Bites to learn more. While we may not be able to cure most cognitive disorders, senior living communities are united in their interest to provide this growing population with the support and service they deserve.

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