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Tips for Mealtime

Friday September 29, 2017

Tips for Mealtime and Dementia

The following are tips for enjoying meals with your loved one with memory loss. As always, if this blog post sparks a question or if you need advice for your specific situation, give us a call at 901.854.1200. We would be happy to help!

Simplify.

Eat at the table, not in front of the TV.
Limit table décor. Plastic fruit can be mistaken for real fruit. Centerpieces, chargers, napkin rings, salt and pepper shakers, and placemats all on the same table can be distracting.
Limit utensils to reduce confusion.
Avoid busy patterns on the table cloth.
Be sure food, plate, and table are contrasting colors, so food can be easily seen.
If your loved one seems to be eating just a certain portion of his or her food, you may need to rotate the plate throughout the meal.
Limit choices. Three veggies and a meat might be too much, instead offer the meat and then one veggie at a time.

Serve food that is ready to eat.

Check the temperature. Your loved one may not know if the food is too hot or too cold.
If your loved one is not able to cut the food, serve it pre-cut.
Be mindful of which utensils are used. A fork may be easier than a spoon, or finger foods might be best.
Use plates or shallow bowls with a lip, so there’s something to push against to get food on the fork/spoon.

Serve to your loved one’s preferences.

Food preferences may change.
If your loved one has eaten spaghetti his or her entire life, but now says, “I don’t eat spaghetti,” serve something different.
Serve foods with different colors and textures.
If your loved one doesn’t remember that he or she has already eaten, you might offer multiple smaller meals rather than arguing that you have already eaten.

Enjoy your meals together.

Don’t rush. It may take your loved one longer to eat than it used to.
Your loved one may look to you for cues on how to eat – what to eat first, whether to use hands or a fork, etc.
Savor the good stuff! Find foods you and your loved one really like, and enjoy them often.
Shared meals are important. They are social. They build and strengthen relationships. Try not to treat them as an item on the checklist. Treat them as an opportunity to enjoy one another. Good food, better company!