Meal preparation and living alone

There are ways you can support a person with dementia who is living alone to eat and drink well.

People with dementia who live alone may struggle to prepare meals, or may forget about food, which then goes off. This can have a bigger impact on their wellbeing if there’s no other support in place to help them with these issues. If the person is struggling with eating and drinking, it may be a sign they need more support.

Supporting someone who is living alone

  • Encourage the person to use frozen, refrigerated or room-temperature ready meals. They often need little preparation and may help the person cook more easily. Some meals are specifically made to be nutritionally balanced.
  • If the person has difficulty using utensils for chopping or peeling, ready-prepared or frozen vegetables can be a quick and easy way to help them eat a balanced diet.
  • Consider having meals delivered. A ‘meals on wheels’ service is available in some local areas. It may also be possible for the person to have a week’s supply of ready meals delivered. Contact your local council to see what is available in your area.
  • Organise online shopping if the person struggles with going to the shops. It can be a good way to make sure there is fresh food in the house. The person can order what they want and have it delivered – usually on the date and at the time of day that they choose. Others (such as friends or family members) could help the person with this, but it’s important to make sure the food ordered is what the person would want.
  • Leave simple notes or pictures to show the person where food is – for example a picture of a sandwich on the fridge.
  • Leave simple instructions to help the person prepare, cook or reheat food for themselves – for example ‘microwave on high for three minutes’.
  • Consider arranging a homecare worker to help the person with eating and drinking. For more information contact your local social services or the UK Homecare Association (see Other resources).
Dementia Support Line
Our dementia advisers are here for you.
Dementia Support Forum
Visit our online community to get advice, share experiences, connect.