Eating well with dementia It is important for people with dementia to eat well. It’s common for people with dementia to have trouble with eating. If someone you care for has trouble with swallowing, or is losing weight, it is a good idea to talk to the doctor. Easy finger food ideas: Hints for meal times Encourage the person to eat with others as much as possible. Avoid distractions, like loud radio or TV in the background. Let the person have plenty of time to eat. Keep the table clear to help the person focus on their meal. Give prompts to the person such as placing the cutlery in their hands. Give encouragement to eat during the meal. Serve one course or even one food at a time to help the person concentrate on their food. Serve meals and snacks at regular times. Avoid burns by ensuring food is not too hot. Encourage the person to eat when they are most alert (and not tired). Food Ideas Use familiar foods - cook and present them in familiar ways. Offer small portions at a time. Try bright, colourful food that smells good! Offer nourishing drinks like milkshakes in between meals if the person needs to gain weight. Finger foods can make meal and snack times easier. Leave easy-to-eat snacks that don’t need to be refrigerated out on the bench – like crackers, or pieces of fruit. Tough, sticky, dry or crunchy foods may cause choking and may need to be avoided. Soft, moist foods may be easier to eat. Some people can find it hard to eat different textures in the same mouthful. Talk to a Speech Pathologist if you are worried. Add minced meat, eggs or legumes in your casseroles/stews. If overeating is a problem Have healthy snacks within easy reach. Try fruit, pieces of cooked vegetables or rice crackers. Spread meals and snacks out over the day. Offer a glass of water at the beginning of a meal. Distract the person with outings and activities. In some cases you may need to lock food away. Changes in food likes and dislikes Try new dishes. Be aware that the person may like odd tastes, e.g. sweet and savoury mixes. If the person wants sweets, try healthy sweet foods like custard, yoghurt and fruit. Ask your doctor if any of the person’s medications might be causing taste changes. If spilling of food and drinks is a problem Ask your Community Nurse or Occupational Therapist for help with different cutlery or cups. Put a non-slip placemat under the plate. Cut up meat and hard vegetables, or try finger foods.
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