Dementia and food choices

My loved one with dementia is now managing Type 2 diabetes. She was diagnosed prior to the pandemic. We worked with a nutritionist before medication was prescribed. She does not remember going to that appointment.

Eventually her primary care prescribed medication and it helped.

Then the pandemic and the assisted living facility went into lockdown.

She was sequestered to her apartment for months. Meals were brought to her room. Choices were very limited. She no longer had a menu to select from

After lifting of some restrictions last summer, I was able to bring her for bloodwork and her glucose numbers were much better. In fact most of her reading improved. And this was without physical activity.

A year later her glucose readings are not good again. I received a call this week from the wellness office expressing concern about her food choices. She is eating high carbs during the night, every night.

My sister was a nurse and when diabetes and food choices are discussed she understands, at that moment.

Then she forgets.

I have notes on the refrigerator. She no longer sees them.

Do I limit her access to the grocery store? It is one of her social events she looks forward to weekly. If I try to limit her selections it creates agitation and anxiety for her (and me). She still has access to a small store where she can purchase the high carb foods. She also has rights and the facility cannot refuse her menu selection, how much or how often.

When first diagnosed with mix dementia, the medical team I worked with said life expectancy is often impacted. I now see that the dementia is impacting her physical health faster than her mental health.

Her habits have changed and not for the good.

I am currently reading Atomic Habits by James Clear. He explains that the “environment is the invisible hand that shapes human behavior”. For me, if I have a bowl of candy on the counter I will likely have them. If I have a bowl of fruit on the counter I will have them. It is the bowl on the counter that is my cue.

I am going to bring some fruit to my sister and without any discussion, put a small bowl out on her counter as well as one front and center in the refrigerator.

I am taking her shopping every other week.

I let you know how successful we are!

Does your loved one with dementia struggle with food choices impact their health? How do you help manage the challenge?