Ten Tips to Make Mealtimes Easier for People with Dementia

Resources for Families / Resources for Seniors

If you’re caring for someone who has Alzheimer’s or a related dementia, you know that encouraging them to eat nutritious meals can be a daily challenge – especially during the middle and late stages of the disease.

“We work with many families who are experiencing this challenge,” said Austin Blilie, Chief Operating Officer at Tudor Oaks Home Care’s parent organization, ABHM. “Refusal to eat can be caused by a number of things – there could be a medical condition, they may not recognize that food is something to eat, they may have lost the sense of hunger and thirst or they might get distracted at mealtime. Whatever the reason, it’s important to find ways to ensure they get the nutrition they need.”

To make mealtimes easier, Blilie suggest that you:

Maintain a routine. Serve meals in a consistent place, way and time.

Limit distractions. Keep the eating area quiet – away from the television and other distractions.

Keep the table setting simple. Avoid patterned plates, tablecloths and placemats that might confuse the person. Using color to contrast plates against a tablecloth or placemat can make it easier for the person to distinguish the food from the plate or table. Provide only the utensils needed for the meal to avoid confusion.

Check the food temperature. A person living with dementia might not be able to tell if something is too hot to eat or drink.

Offer one food item at a time. The person may be unable to decide among the foods on his or her plate. Serve only one or two items at a time.

Cut food into small pieces. Also make sure the food is soft enough to eat.

Be flexible with food preferences. It is possible the person may suddenly develop certain food preferences or reject foods he or she may have liked in the past.

Allow plenty of time to eat. Keep in mind that it can take an hour or more for the person to finish a meal.

Eat together. Keeping mealtimes social can encourage the person to eat.

Keep in mind person may not remember when or if he or she ate. If the person continues to ask about eating breakfast, consider serving several breakfasts – juice, followed by toast, followed by cereal.

 “Many of us at Tudor Oaks Home Care have personal experience with dementia, so we understand the challenges that come with the disease – including those that occur at mealtime. That’s why we are committed to helping families navigate their care journey,” Blilie said. “Tudor Oaks Home Care’s professional caregivers are trained to provide exceptional care for those living with dementia – helping them remain safely in their homes for as long as possible, while giving family members a break and much needed peace of mind.”

For more information about Alzheimer’s care services, visit TudorOaksHomeCare.com.