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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