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Encouraging Eating: Advice for
At-Home Dementia Caregivers
Tips for Making Mealtimes Easier and More Enjoyable
mealtimes as opportunities for social interaction and
success for yourself and the person with dementia. A
warm and happy tone of voice can set the mood.
Try to make
mealtimes calm, comfortable, and reassuring. Be patient,
avoid rushing through meals, and give the person enough
time to finish the meal.
to possible frustration, confusion, and anxiety during
mealtimes and look for ways to reduce these feelings.
familiar routines and rituals, but be flexible and adapt
to the personís changing needs.
distractions during mealtimes. For example, turn off the
television or radio, and eliminate unneeded items from
appealing foods that have familiar flavors, varied
textures, and different colors, and give the person
opportunities to make choices.
nutritious finger foods and nutrient-rich homemade
shakes or shake products (unless the person is lactose
intolerant) available throughout the day.
earlier stages of dementia, be aware of the possibility
of overeating. If this occurs, provide a balanced diet,
limit snacks, and offer engaging activities as
alternatives to eating.
person is on a reduced-sodium or sugar-restricted diet
because of hypertension, diabetes, or another medical
condition, keep foods with high salt or sugar content
out of reach or in a locked cabinet.
Help the person drink plenty of fluids throughout the
dayódehydration can lead to problems such as increased
constipation, confusion, and dizziness.
Use adaptive eating tools as needed. Talk with an
occupational therapist about which tools might be
helpful, as well as other strategies to make eating and
mealtime routines more successful.
Identify and work to resolve issues such as depression,
forgetting to wear glasses or hearing aids, wearing
poorly fitting dentures, and use of appetite-suppressing
medications, which may impair the personís ability or
desire to eat.
Maintain routine dental checkups and daily oral health
Be alert to and address potential safety issues, such as
the person forgetting to turn off the stove after
cooking and the increased risk of choking because of
chewing and swallowing problems that may arise as the
And finally: Remember to take care of yourself to reduce
the stress of caring for others. Whenever you have
questions or worries, get help from your health care
provider, friends, and family.
Source: National Institute on Aging