Lesson 3: Nutrition and Hydration

85% of people with dementia and other long-term illnesses are only cared for in their own homes. On average, their loved ones help them for 12 hours a day. With work and other things to do, it can be hard to fit that in. It usually takes a financial and physical toll. As a result, caregivers often report a lot of stress, depression, anxiety, and tiredness. Caregivers’ nutrition can also be harmed by taking care of them. If you don’t have a lot of time to cook or shop, you might reach for sweets or fast food, which don’t require a lot of planning or preparation. You might not get enough protein and fluids. You might not get enough fiber from fruits or vegetables that aren’t in a lot of ready-to-eat foods. That puts the caregiver at risk of not getting enough food, which can make them more vulnerable to the physical effects of stress, so they need to eat more. The good news is that eating a healthy diet can help lessen the effects of stress. caregivers should make sure they provide healthy meals for the people they look after, but it’s also very important for them to make sure they get enough nutrition and water for themselves.

How can you do this to your “to-do” list?  To start a new habit, take the first few steps. During each meal, have a drink, and 2-3 times between meals. Examples of healthy drinks are water, milk, juice (for those fruits and vegetables you may not be getting enough of), or drinks that aren’t sweetened. Next, look at protein, which is a key nutrient that helps build strength and gives your body important minerals.