Nutritional Management of Individuals with Alzheimer's Disease and Other Progressive Dementias

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Alzheimer's disease (AD) causes a steady loss of memory and a decline in the ability to care for oneself. Weight loss is an insidious, yet common, problem that requires intervention and supervision during all stages of the disease. In spite of swallowing difficulties, natural feeding techniques can be used to sustain demented individuals without the use of tube feeding. Mealtime independence that supports an adequate nutritional intake can be encouraged by a variety of environmental, behavioral, and physical strategies. Supplements and adjustments in the diet's texture and volume in response to chewing and swallowing difficulties can enhance food and fluid intake and help to maintain an established target weight. Strategies used to maintain nutritional status in AD may also be useful for individuals with other progressive dementias. It is important to consider the individual's comfort and dignity when making any team treatment decisions.

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