Good nutrition does make a difference...

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by TooHard, Apr 17, 2016.

  1. TooHard

    TooHard Registered User

    Sep 16, 2015
    Mum has mixed dementia (alz & vasc) and is also almost blind. She can't use either the cooker or the microwave at all. Despite this she claims she eats perfectly well and doesn't need meals on wheels. She lives alone without any help and the closest of her children lives 100 miles away. I visit regularly and tend to stay for two nights at a time.

    Last week mum said she felt the best she'd felt in a long time, she felt 'sharper' and certainly sounded a lot more positive and chipper. It took me a couple of days to work out what the difference was (and it really seemed to be a big difference). Then it dawned on me....she'd had a full week of proper nutrition with 3 good meals a day because my sister and I had visited back to back and we'd both fed her properly.

    My sister left on Monday of last week and by Friday mum was sounding pretty much back to "normal". I speak to her twice a day most days and you can hear the differences in her mood and health in her voice.

    I don't have the slightest doubt that eating properly is what made the difference and I just can't put into words how frustrated I am that mum can't see that she has to eat properly. I'm equally frustrated that SS just accept her word for it that she doesn't need help and that she's managing perfectly well on her own.

    Suggesting to her that she needs to eat better than she is just makes her angry. She was always difficult (thrawn) but has got worse as the dementia has got worse. Not good for my stress levels or my peace of mind.
  2. Earthgirl72

    Earthgirl72 Registered User

    Feb 2, 2016
    My dad is exactly the same.

    He had a bad UTI and I started to visit every mealtime rather than the daily checks and phone calls I had been doing previously.

    With the introduction of three meals a day and encouraging drinks, he really picked up and I couldn't actually believe the difference in his mood and his energy levels. He was almost my 'old' dad!

    Sadly, he's having a rough patch at the mo, and doesn't want to eat as much and yes, it's right back to how he was before.

    Words have been had, he told me he 'couldn't be bothered with drinking or eating' and that 'he'd go when the time was -insert several expletives- right'

    I can't force him to eat or drink, just wish that he'd see that it does make him feel better!

    so yes, I know exactly how you feel..
  3. Owly

    Owly Registered User

    Jun 6, 2011
    I so agree, and it's likely she's better supplied with drinks too which keeps her hydrated. I think my Mum's vascular dementia probably progressed through lack of liquid making her blood sluggish and not flowing well through her brain.

    Does your Mum also get more exercise (walks?) when you or sister are there, and does she go out herself? Keeping the circulation going well is critical. A programme this week on TV talked about how exercise like walking actually makes new neurons form in the brain.

    I totally understand your frustration about getting Mum to accept daily help. It is sadly pretty common to have to wait till there is some kind of crisis before changes can be brought in.
  4. LadyA

    LadyA Registered User

    Oct 19, 2009
    Speaking of nutrition - I've mentioned on my own thread a lecture I attended this past week which was very interesting. It was given by a Research Group that study the effect of Macular Pigmentation. They had been studying Macular Degeneration, and whether that has any links to dementia. They can measure the macular pigmentation at the back of the eye, and have now discovered that the level of this pigmentation (which is laid down by the level of carotenoids, micro-nutrients from our diet) is at the same level in our brain. These micro-nutrients are found in fruits, vegetables & some fish oils. They know that supplements (Macro-shield etc.) can help protect the eyes against macular degeneration - and now they are recruiting people to start trials to see if nutritional supplements of the micro-nutrients can prevent or postpone dementia. It was very fascinating, and looks very promising. They will be trialling it over a number of years with several hundred people, half with mild cognitive impairment and half without, all over 65.
  5. MollyD

    MollyD Registered User

    Mar 27, 2016
    This is really interesting. Mum was diagnosed with MD a number of years ago while having cataracts sorted. She's been on macu-shield since then, apart from a period in hospital when she refused it.

    Her latest check up with her eye consultant (3 weeks ago) shows it's still dry and, thankfully, stable. Still, at a certain point during her recovery from surgery (after falling and breaking her hip), she rang me, crying her heart out. She said she couldn't see properly. Something had happened. Some sudden deterioration. Whether this was the cause of the fall or was accelerated/exacerbated by surgery/recovery from surgery, who knows. Dementia has tumbled in since surgery.

    She wouldn't be able to use her mobile now. Her eye sight is quite good when looking at things from certain angles but atrocious looking down, for example. Not being able to use her phone is mainly down to her dementia now though.

    Whatever, it's a huge loss to her. She was a voracious reader before she fell.
  6. TooHard

    TooHard Registered User

    Sep 16, 2015
    Mum walks though her gait has become very laboured. She refuses to use a walking aid of any sort despite the fact that she's had five hip replacements and can be a bit unsteady on her feet (compounded by the fact that she is visually impaired....she has had several falls outside). Right up until maybe 2 years ago she walked for miles every day - she's always had a dog to walk. Now just walking to the local shop and back (20 minute walk max) takes her anything up to 55 (very frustrating) minutes.

    Like so many people with dementia or even just older people living alone she neither drinks nor eats enough and this has been getting progressively worse. Because she has bladder incontinence she started avoiding drinking and ended up with a backed up bladder ( which is when everything escalated and we realised how much she had been struggling). Despite being told repeatedly that she has to drink plenty she just gets angry and argues that she is drinking. She is not.

    Being fiercely independent is very admirable but there's not much to praise about it if it ends up making your dementia worse or even killing you.
  7. stanleypj

    stanleypj Registered User

    Dec 8, 2011
    North West
    It's clearly true that any PWD, or anyone come to that, is more likely to 'thrive' if they have a good diet and are properly hydrated. One might think that people who are suffering because of deficiencies in these respects probably need to be in a care home but sadly there are posts in TP which suggests that people can be just as poorly 'fed and watered' in a care home. It might be worth considering regular carer visits, if the right sort of carers can be found.

    At the very least I should make sure that you let SS know that in your view your mum's health is at risk because they are being given, and are accepting, an inaccurate view by your mum.
  8. TooHard

    TooHard Registered User

    Sep 16, 2015
    Whilst the social worker who's visited (twice...once mum on her own and second with me there) is very nice she reckons there's nothing can be done because mum 'has capacity' and you can't force someone to have help who doesn't want it. Basically she has said we have to wait for a crisis and then they'll step in.

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