As carers and health professionals, we recognize the importance of supporting our residents to achieve and maintain good nutrition so as to optimize their health and wellbeing. Our residents living with Dementia require constant support as physical activity and diet changes impact their nutritional balance. Residents may experience loss of or insatiable appetite. A craving for sweets is common and meal routines can be disrupted as they may forget to eat or drink, how to chew or swallow. Cognitive changes may also affect a resident’s ability to recognize the food and drink they are given or how to use cutlery. In the later stages of Dementia weight loss is common with an increase loss of appetite.
What we do
Upon admission we record our resident’s past history and dietary meal preferences to assist us in understanding our resident’s dietary requirements. Recent weight loss, loss of taste and smell is noted. We work closely with Karen Heinkes, Speech Pathologist and our resident’s GP to ensure recomm- endations and referrals are followed up as required. Blood screenings to monitor calcium and vitamin D levels are conducted. With Dietician, Yvonne Coleman, a Nutritional Risk Screening Tool (NRST) is completed and the level of nutritional risk identified. During the early stage of admission Yvonne’s expertise is important in reviewing the 4-week rotating menu. Weekly weighs are conducted for a minimum of 1 month to ensure the food strategy is suitable for the individual.
The dining experience
Residents with textured modified diets – as per the recommendation of our Speech Pathologist, can enjoy their vitamised food in a mould of its original food. Known as textured concept foods, we work closely with Chef Raj to ensure menu selection and dietary needs are met. The food is beautifully presented and flavoursome, offering dignity and the enjoyment of a shared dining occasion amongst our residents. Staff closely supervise meal times and when required, offer residents encouragement and guidance. Our aim is to encourage independence and often residents are able to feed themselves.
Daily nutritional balance
‘Dietary guidelines for older Australians’ recommend residents living with Dementia increase food intake to prevent weight loss as their physical activity increase. Pacing may be common resulting in increased physical activity. A reduction of appetite can also occur so it’s important to encourage small frequent meals to promote nutritional balance. Staff consult our Chef Raj to best offer a variety of food and servings. This may be offering milkshakes and smoothies, Sustagen, soups, custard, fresh fruits and fruit pureé along with nutrient dense snacks. Nutritional supplements are prescribed when loss of appetite and weight loss occur.
At Belvedere the nutritional care of our residents living with Dementia is a collaborative effort. Our focus
is to work closely with care staff, GPs, Dieticians, medical professionals and our chef ensuring a comprehensive care plan that supports the best nutritional balance for our residents living with Dementia.
Clinical Services Manager
For further information about Nutrition of our Residents please speak to Carmel Drobnik, Clinical Services Manager
Information and resources about Dementia is available by calling the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500 or visit www.fightdementia.org.au/vic