Eating well with dementia

Eating well is vital to maintain the health, independence and wellbeing of people with dementia. However, for many people with dementia, eating can become challenging as their dementia progresses. Some lose their appetite or the skills needed to use cutlery, others struggle to chew and swallow. Explore the links below to find out more about this theme.

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Why nutrition is important for people with dementia

Why nutrition is important for people with dementia

For many people with dementia, the changes that are experienced as dementia progresses can have an impact on the whole mealtime experience. These changes can result in weight loss, dehydration or even weight gain. Malnutrition and dehydration can contribute to the risk of developing delirium. The more we know about a person with dementia, the easier it is to meet their nutritional needs.

Chewing and swallow problems

Chewing and swallowing problems

People with dementia can experience difficulties with chewing and swallowing as the dementia progresses. These problems can affect how well a person with dementia eats. If we can identify and act on signs of chewing and swallowing difficulties we can help to reduce the risk of malnutrition.

Independence at mealtimes?

Promoting independence at mealtimes

People with dementia can often experience difficulties making choices about what they want to eat and drink. Being aware of some of the difficulties a person with dementia may experience at mealtimes can help to ensure that we give them the best possible support.

The eating environment

The eating environment

The environment in which a person with dementia eats will have an effect on how they eat. People with dementia will not want to stay and eat in an environment in which they feel uncomfortable. Understanding the impact of the mealtime environment can help us to improve the eating experience for people with dementia.

Can diet prevent or slow down dementia

Can diet prevent or slow down dementia?

The nutritional quality of our diet has an impact on our physical and mental wellbeing. There are no conclusive findings on whether individual supplements or so-called 'super-foods' can improve cognitive function or reduce the risk of developing dementia. A combination of nutrient-rich foods and a Mediterranean-style diet appears more effective at reducing our risk of dementia. Research continues in this area to explore the relationship between diet, cognitive function and dementia.

Eating well at home

Eating well at home

Home care workers have a vital role in supporting a person who lives at home to eat well. Work out a person's food preferences and encourage them to be as involved as possible in food preparation. Consider whether the approach to shopping and accessing meals is working well to ensure there is a regular supply of food in the house. Try some alternatives, such as finger foods and snacks, if a person is not eating or drinking enough. Keep alert to any chewing and swallowing problems.

Activities based around food

Activities based around food

Engaging people with dementia in conversation and food-based activities can stimulate interest in food and appetite. People with dementia can benefit greatly from being involved in food preparation and jobs related to mealtimes. Learning about people's lives can reveal important information about their interest and involvement with food in the past and how that sits now. Food is an important part of most social events, and a diverse social programme can offer range of experiences at mealtimes.

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