Balancing Nutrition and Glee: Re-thinking Meals for Alzheimer's Patients

Jacqueline Marcell Health Guide
  • Speaking recently with an idealistic young nutritionist, she mentioned how appalled she was by some of the food she observed being served in nursing homes. She couldn’t understand why it wasn’t all of the highest nutrition and why there was always some junk food offered too. She wanted to change that.

    I told her I felt the same way about it when my mother was in a nursing home for a short time, but that I changed my mind about it when I took care of my disabled elderly parents myself. Whenever I asked what they wanted for dinner, I always cringed to hear the same response, "Hamburgers and milkshakes!"
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    At first I didn’t want to contribute further to their ill health and did my best to always serve them the healthiest meals possible. But then I decided that those who are enduring so much, should get to eat whatever they **** well please.

    So, once or twice a week, I made a trip to their favorite greasy spoon to get exactly what they wanted-the most delicious hamburgers and thick rich vanilla shakes. I can still see their gleeful excitement and appreciation-because I experienced it every time.

    And then when I was the patient, enduring a blood transfusion and nine days in the hospital from complications of a double mastectomy for breast cancer, I didn’t want to eat much of anything. Finally, a dear friend asked what I wanted and what would taste good to me–and showed up with my favorite gelato ice cream.

    I remember smiling as I made the connection, and then being so glad that I had so often given in and gotten my parents exactly what they wanted–their hamburgers and milk shakes.

    You can learn more about Jacqueline and find information about her book at

Published On: March 19, 2007