11 Sep Dementia-friendly dining
Creating a dignified dining experience for dementia residents
Supporting older people living with dementia with good nutrition is especially important as they may have a small appetite due to medications or impaired taste, smell, hearing or vision. In addition, residents living with dementia may struggle with handling cutlery or lack the concentration to stay seated long enough to finish their meal.
With this in mind, we explore ways to boost nutrition and encourage independence and dignity through the dining experience. The simple techniques below take little effort but are subtle, yet effective ways to squeeze a bit more autonomy into the day of someone with later stages of dementia.
- Grazing plates and finger foods – In cases of dementia, residents can lose dexterity in their hands. Serving food on grazing plates or finger foods can help residents eat without their disability being highlighted.
- Keep food simple – Too much choice can overstimulate residents with dementia. When plating food, there should be no more than two or three distinct food elements.
- Sweetness – In cases of frontotemporal dementia, those with the condition can crave sweeter foods. Serving foods higher in sugar can be an effective way to increase their appetite and reduce the risk of malnutrition.
- Reduce distractions – A busy, cluttered or noisy dining room can make residents with dementia anxious and affect their appetite. Try to reduce unnecessary disturbances, such as loud television or radio sounds, excess furniture or assistive equipment not in use. Having a regular seating plan can also help alleviate anxiety by providing a familiar spot for residents.
- Use simple crockery and plate settings – Overly decorative plates can be distracting and make it difficult for residents with poor vision to distinguish the meal. Plate settings should ideally be mono-coloured and contrast with the table setting. Research suggests red crockery may be useful to help stimulate appetite.
- Adaptive cutlery – Regular cutlery may be difficult for someone who has loss of grip strength due to dementia. Adaptive or assistive cutlery can help residents maintain their independence and dignity by allowing them to eat unaided.
Choose foods that are robust and easy to hold.
Serve foods in small or bite-sized chunks.
Make mini versions of foods that can be eaten by hand.
Foods should be moist but not too messy.
For residents that like to wander, consider bright, portable food containers.
Have wipes or hot flannels available before and after meals.
Small changes to the dining experience can make a world of difference for those living with dementia. With SoupedUp Catering software, chefs can also create dementia-specific menu options and a resident’s digital profile is the perfect place to keep individual requirements and preferences in one place that can be updated anytime.
For more tips on how to improve the dining experience, SoupedUp Training is the perfect way to up-skill your team, with no downtime in the kitchen.