Dining With Dementia

The past few weeks have been busy around “the office.”  I’ve been driving around NC visiting students as they complete their clinical rotations.

I recently received an email from the folks at Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services (CMSS).  If you’ve never heard of  CMSS, visit here to learn more.  They are an incredible organization specializing in Chicago senior care.

Since both of us work with seniors who have dementia, we thought it would be a great idea to share practices around eating and dementia.  My post, Eating with Dementia provides five practical tips that will help mealtime be more successful.  Be sure to visit the link to learn more.

Karoline Hutson, with Chicagoland Methodist Senior Services, was nice enough to provide the below post:

Dining with Dementia:

A meal can easily turn into a stressful situation for someone with dementia – not to mention for the person providing care. In our memory support communities, we have found these tips helpful in creating a calm, pleasant dining experience for our residents:

  • Use different colored dishes. For example, use a red plate and a blue mug on a yellow placemat. This helps distinguish each item for their proper use in addition to defining the food on the plate.
  • Create a delineated space for each individual. When serving several people, use a square table rather than a round one; this can help to prevent confusion regarding which items are to be used by each person.
  • Play to the sense of smell and incorporate it into the dining experience. Using fresh herbs and spices helps to stimulate senses, memories, and conversation.
  • If there are options to choose from, do not use menus or verbal descriptions. Choices should be made after the food is seen, smelled, and perhaps even tasted.
  • If using utensils properly is an issue, serve finger foods or make the meal into a sandwich, which is easily done if you get creative. Now is not the time to worry about being neat and tidy.
  • If there is a loss of appetite that is leading to unhealthy weight loss, fortify a simple dish with extra ingredients. For example, serve a comfort food like mashed potatoes and mix in sour cream, cheese, or bacon to add some fat content.
  • Be sure that the dining environment is calm and free from distractions such as loud noises and unpleasant smells. Play soothing music and allow enough time for everyone to eat at their own pace.

The most important thing is remain observant – most problems can be easily solved with a keen sense of awareness and a little creativity. If you have any questions or want to share tips of your own, feel free to join the conversation at our Dealing with Dementia Facebook page!

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Thanks Karoline!!  Happy Eating!

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