Evidence suggests that eating a Mediterranean-style diet can reduce the risk of developing dementia. There is currently little evidence to suggest that a special diet can delay the development of dementia in people already diagnosed, but it is advisable to eat a healthy diet which will improve your general health and boost immunity.
As dementia progresses, eating and drinking may become more of a challenge. A person with dementia may change their attitude towards food, for example they may begin disliking foods they used to enjoy.
Some people find eating and drinking becomes difficult due to physical problems with their mobility or coordination. There are dementia aids that can assist with this, for example, easy to grip cutlery, specially designed cups and mugs, and plates with contrasting colours to make them easier to see.
Similarly, depression, oral pain or discomfort, medication, tiredness and using less energy can all decrease the person’s appetite.
Exercise for dementia
provides a factsheet about eating and drinking with dementia including tips for carers.
Some people take dementia supplements such as vitamins and minerals because they believe these help to reduce some of their symptoms and may have positive effects such as slowing down the progression of the condition. Omega-3 (found in oily fish), B vitamins and folic acid are often taken. There is little clinical evidence to support the use of dementia supplements. Living a healthy lifestyle is the most important factor to help reduce the risk of dementia developing.
Exercise is considered one of the best ways to reduce the risk of developing dementia. Exercise for dementia patients may bring the following benefits:
• Improve heart health and decrease the risk of heart disease
• Reduce the risk of some types of cancer
• Reduce the risk of stroke and type 2 diabetes
• Retain mobility, strength, balance and flexibility for longer
• Keep bones strong
• Improve memory
• Increase self-esteem and mood
People in the early or middle-stages of dementia are usually able to find an exercise that suits their abilities or continue doing those that they have always enjoyed. Local community or sports centres often provide a range of organised exercise and physical activity sessions, such as ball games, seated exercises, tai chi, music and dance, indoor bowls or swimming.
Increasing the amount of physical activity carried out during the day all counts as exercise too, for example, walking, gardening and housework.
For more information and advice, read the Alzheimer’s Society factsheet
Dementia and employment
If you receive a dementia diagnosis, it does not necessarily mean you are unable to work anymore. Many people continue to work for a long time after they are diagnosed. If you are able to carry on working, it may help your wellbeing, mood and cognitive abilities.
You should inform your employer that you have been diagnosed with dementia and of your intention to continue with or leave employment. They have a legal duty not to discriminate and to make reasonable adjustments to ensure you are not disadvantaged in the workplace.
A disability employment adviser (DEA) at a Jobcentre Plus office can advise on speaking to your employer.
Don’t rush into a decision – take time to consider the options and find the right solution for you.
The Alzheimer’s Society offer a helpful advice booklet on dementia and employment