Ice cream — it’s just what the doctor ordered! Whether you’re a regular joe or a powerful public figure, dementia can affect anyone. Science now suggests this one simple tool can help the millions of people living with dementia today.
Medical professionals have many tips and tools for dementia care, but they agree that ice cream is a powerful elixir for those suffering from dementia. The Alzheimer’s Association — the world’s leading non-profit dedicated to “end[ing] Alzheimer’s and all other dementia” — explains why in a caregiver’s guide titled “The Power of Ice Cream.”
As the guide explains, all of us live through “moments of stress and frustration,” but dementia prevents people from managing that stress appropriately. Normally, we would “distance ourselves from the situation” in order to “minimize the stress.” We might use “prayer or meditation” or “physical exercise or social activities.” Yet a person with dementia can become “overwhelmed” with these “everyday activities, things that prior to the onset of dementia may have even been pleasurable,” according to the guide.
Thus, dementia “causes an increase in frustration with all kinds of events” and “when frustrated, a person with dementia may get angry, agitated, or cry, or pace around.” (RELATED: Unilever Experiments With Warmer Freezers For Ice Cream Products)
For example, a simple, relaxing bike ride on the beach — a once beloved past time — may result in confusion and a catastrophic fall. A public gathering with friends and colleagues may turn into an upsetting ordeal, leaving the dementia patient wandering around lost, unsure of the once-familiar surroundings. A visit from those tasked with looking out for the patient’s well-being could end with him screaming “Don’t fucking bullshit me!” and “Get the fuck out of here!”
This is the point where caregivers need to step in and “extend their own coping mechanisms to their loved ones with dementia and help them in dissipating their frustration.” First the caregiver must “identify and neutralize the possible source of stress.” Next, the caregiver should “provide reassurance; let them know it is ok.” Then comes the last and most critical step — ice cream!
As the experts explain, ice cream “takes all of your worries away. It is soothing and delicious, and personable: everyone has a favorite flavor! Ice cream brings people with dementia to happier, warmer times when the treat was shared with friends and loved ones at special, joyous occasions. Ice cream has the power to immediately elicit soothing feelings at the very first taste of a single spoon–full.”
Ice cream works because of how it affects your brain: “It erases all the negative feelings related to the frustration and continues to stimulate pleasure receptors in the brain with every new scoop … For people with dementia, ice cream is far more effective and safe than Prozac, or any other ‘happy’ drug on the market!” (RELATED: Ben & Jerry’s Parent Company Loses An Estimated $2.5 Billion After July 4 Tweet About ‘Stolen Indigenous Land’)
Since there are so many flavors to choose from, virtually everyone can enjoy this soothing treat. It is truly the “Swiss army knife” of dementia care and can be used to de-escalate all sorts of frustration.
The next time your loved one falls off his bike, tell him it’s alright and sit him down with a big bowl of chocolate chip ice cream. If he appears lost and overwhelmed at a social function, calmly take him into a quiet room and distract him with a waffle cone overflowing with creamy, dripping deliciousness. If he yells at you in anger, don’t take it personally — just give him an extra scoop.
If your loved one suffers from dementia, trust the science — and never run out of ice cream!