Could ice-cream be the perfect vehicle for delivering nutrition to the elderly?
In October 2018, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) reported that a total of 67,641 deaths were attributed to dementia and Alzheimer’s in 2017 – up from 62,948 in 2016. This number is forecast to increase to over 1 million by 2025 and over 2 million by 2051. Among the many challenges with caring for dementia patients is ensuring they get enough nutrients and maintain a healthy diet, which is of great importance to their mental and physical well-being.
With this in mind, Kitchen Theory Chef Patron Jozef Youssef and long-term collaborator & experimental psychologist Professor Charles Spence, sought to understand how their research into multi-sensory flavour perception could play a role in improving nutritional intake in care homes, especially for patients suffering from dementia. They did this by working with Denville Hall, a retirement home for professional actors. Over the course of several months, our team developed a series of nutritious, delicious and nostalgically themed ice-creams, both savoury and sweet. But why ice cream you may ask? Aside from the positive/nostalgic associations with this sweet treat, a large part of its enjoyment is in the textural properties (smooth, creamy, rich, soft, cold) which provide a unique mouthfeel experience – this is perfect when you consider that our sense of smell diminishes with age (leading to food losing it’s flavour) particularly for those suffering from degenerative diseases such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Below are some images of the dining experience hosted at our studio to launch this initiative, along with the menu of nutritious, delicious and nostalgically themed ice-cream dishes.