Eating & Mealtimes
- Try to create a calm, distraction-free environment for meals.
- Prepare foods with your loved one’s needs in mind. If your loved one has trouble
chewing or swallowing, serve soft or bite-size foods.
- Loss of appetite may signal depression, side effects from medication, difficulty
swallowing, or another condition. Consult a physician.
To a person with dementia, the tub can be a source of terror. Find ways to minimize
problems with bathing.
Mealtimes can be a time for social interaction and success for your loved one. Whenever
possible, eat with your loved one to provide company and serve as a model of eating
Choices can cause confusion, so you may need to remove condiments and unneeded utensils
from the table or serve one type of food at a time. People with dementia may forget
to cut up or chew food properly, so cut up and season the food as necessary. Stick
mostly with foods that have familiar flavors and smells.
Independence is much more important than neatness or manners. Serving finger foods,
and providing other tools like a “sippy cup” or straw can help. Provide assistance
only when necessary. If things get too messy, consider having your loved one wear
a smock or large apron rather than a bib. Also switch to plastic placemats or tablecloths
and serve meals in a room where the floor can be easily cleaned.
Note that mealtime confusion may be worsened by vision problems. Your loved one
may not be able to see a glass, or a plate might blend in with the placemat. A patterned
dish might even distract your loved one from eating.
Next Step: Learn how to minimize problems with bathing.