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Caring for those with Dementia: Making the Most out of Meal Time

2011-12-02

As you may know, getting your loved ones to eat adequately can sometimes be difficult. Here are some quick tips to help facilitate the dining process for those living with dementia and their loved ones:

  • Plan ahead to adapt mealtime to suit the person’s needs and communicate openly so that there are no surprises
  • Develop a routine to create familiarity
  • Create a pleasant, social, and normal mealtime atmosphere
  • Encourage participation in meal preparation
  • Reduce noise and confusion

Presentation

  • Choose a table setting that is appropriate for the functional level of the person and ensure seating is comfortable
  • Use a plate that contrasts with the placemat and with the food
  • Use red colored plates. Research shows red plates tend to create more consumption
  • There are special adaptive utensils and plates available that may be helpful to encourage independence

The Meal

  • Present portions that do not discourage or overwhelm the person
  • If needed, cut food into pieces that are small and tender enough to be eaten safely
  • Consider foods that are easily eaten with fingers
  • Serve only one course at a time
  • Use prompts and cues to increase intake and promote independence

Sneaking in Extra Nutrition

  • Serve nutrient-rich foods like fruits and vegetables
  • Offer frequent snacks throughout the day
  • Use food as an incentive
  • Don’t forget ice cream! It’s everyone’s favorite!