Ice cream has the power to immediately elicit soothing feelings at the very first taste of a single spoon-full. It erases all the negative feelings related to the frustration and continues to stimulate pleasure receptors in the brain with every new scoop. And dementia (here is the best part!) allows one to fully enjoy the treat,with no concerns for calories, weight gain or dietary needs, completely guilt free! For people with dementia, ice cream is far more effective and safe than Prozac, or any other “happy” drug on the market!Alzheimer’s Association Caregiver Tips and Tools, California Central Coast Chapter, Number 45
Articles like the one quoted above really make you feel like you’re not alone. This sentiment is spot-on when it comes to my mother and her craving for all sweets, especially ice cream! I don’t dare show up at the facility without a milk shake or a half gallon of her favorite flavor!
It is amazing to me that one human being can consume the amount of sugar that my itty bitty little mom does. Her neurologist once told me that it’s related to the disease. That it has to do with atrophy of a specific part of the brain, I think. When I went to see her today she was sitting at the table drinking her morning coffee (at 1:30pm, by the way. I guess somebody needed her beauty rest) and eating four small donuts. After devouring the donuts she wolfed down three more, a scoop of mint chip ice cream and a handful of m&m’s. And she was clearly irritated when I told her that if she wanted more candy she would need to get up and go to the kitchen.
The words “healthy” and “diet” have always been non-existent in my mother’s vocabulary. I remember when I was a kid that as long as she had a cigarette in her mouth (and often, a scotch in her hand) she was good to go. Not only did she not need healthy food, she didn’t really need any food. When I look at the risk factors for dementia it’s no wonder that my mom is where she is today.
It is also no surprise that as her disease has progressed, it’s become impossible to get any healthy food into her at all. She refuses to eat meal after meal, saying things like “thank you, but I’ve never been a big eater,” or “I’m really just not hungry right now,” or my personal favorite, “no thank you, I just ate.”
The staff at the facility follow her lead. They are perfectly willing to feed her donuts and mint chip ice cream if it means that she is happy and consuming some calories. Despite lots of research suggesting a link between sugar and Alzheimer’s, I agree with this approach. At this stage of her life, if a steady diet of sugar makes her happy and she is not at risk of diabetes, then why not?
We just won’t discuss this with her dentist.