Caregiver Connections

Making Mealtime Easier

Adapted from articles from NIA

 Many times people with memory loss and confusion have difficulty with eating.

Below are some simple ways to make their mealtime easier:

  • Offer meals at regular times - routine helps keep a person with memory loss from becoming agitated or upset.
  • Give clear and simple instructions.
  • Reduce distractions - no extra items on the table; use solid color plates, placements, etc.
  • Prepare ahead of time.
  • Provide a calm environment.
  • Make eating easy; fill glasses half way, cut food in small pieces, make portions small.
  • Try finger foods.
  • Serve foods you know the person knows and likes.
  • Check for physical discomfort.
  • Plan ahead when eating out.
  • Serve soft foods.
  • Make it tasty. Don't serve foods that are bland or sour tasting.
  • Put the power in their hands.  If at all possible, let them decide what they would like to eat.
  • Write it down; keep a food diary, including any food with which they had problems.
  • Work it out; try to get them moving to work up an appetite.

 If you notice your loved one or someone you care for has decreased appetite you can:

  • Offer high caloric drink foods like ice cream, milkshakes or eggnog.
  • Offer familiar foods: foods you know are favorites.
  • Make the main meal at lunch when appetite is larger.
  • Offer 4 to 6 small meals a day.

 If your loved one is having problems swallowing:

  • Allow time between bites and check mouth for food in cheek
  • You may need to remind person to swallow, gently stroking the throat will help stimulate swallowing

 If your loved one is having motivational problems:

  • Make meal look appetizing, try adding fruit or vegetable garnishs to the plate.
  • Play soft music and light some candles
  • Talk about the day's events while they eat