Food for Thought
It is important to try to maintain involvement around mealtimes, shopping and food preparation for as long as possible. This can help to preserve skills as well as maintaining self-esteem and confidence.
A person may struggle to prepare a full meal or snack alone but if the task is broken down into smaller parts they may be quite able to wash, cut or peel fruit and vegetables, butter bread for sandwiches or make a cup of tea with assistance. This involvement can help to stimulate appetite and interest in mealtimes.
If the person has been assessed by social services as requiring additional support to help with personal care, home care may be arranged. Home care will support the person with a variety of care needs which may include helping to prepare and cook food as well as assistance with eating and drinking if needed.
Home care workers can also help with shopping. The services available may vary regionally. Alternatively online shopping may be a helpful way to order food. Most supermarkets offer a delivery service, where orders can be placed online. This is a good way to ensure that there is a regular stock of fresh food and can help if time is limited, or if it is difficult to get to the shops.
There may be concerns about safety in the kitchen and at home, particularly if the person with dementia lives alone. It may seem sensible to replace appliances such as gas cookers with electric versions. However some people with dementia could have great difficulty learning how to use these new appliances. Microwaves can
be an easy alternative if they are simple to use. Putting a note or message on the microwave indicating clearly how to operate it may be helpful for some people.
Some people may not recognise when food is unfit to eat or they may leave food in the fridge that is well past its sell-by date. Check food cupboards and fridges regularly to ensure food is still fit and safe to eat. Remove and throw away out-of-date food.
'I put meals onto plates and put a sticker on the microwave instructing Mum how to cook them'.
Daughter of person with dementia
If a person is eating inedible items, such as potpourri, soap, napkins or pet food, this could indicate that they are hungry. Ensure snacks are visible and available to reduce the risk of non-food items being eaten. If confusion still persists, place the items out of sight.