10. Living alone
People with dementia who live alone may struggle to prepare meals, or food may spoil and be forgotten about. These can be more of an issue when there isn't someone living with them to support them to eat and drink well. Finding a solution that works will depend on the person. It's important to consider that if the person is struggling with eating and drinking, it may be a sign they need more support.
However, there are things that may help a person with dementia who is living alone or who needs extra support.
- Buying frozen or refrigerated ready meals can help. They often require little preparation and may help the person cook more easily. Some meals are specifically made to be nutritionally balanced.
- Consider having meals delivered. A few areas offer a 'meals on wheels' service. It may also be possible for the person to have a week's supply of ready meals delivered. Contact your local council or Alzheimer's Society to see what is available in your area.
- Online shopping can be helpful if the person struggles with going to the shops. They can order what they want and have it delivered - usually on the date and at the time of day that they choose. Others may be able to help the person with this (eg a friend or family member) but it's important to make sure the food ordered is what the person would want.
- Simple notes about where food is, and pictures, may help - eg a picture of a sandwich on the fridge.
- Simple instructions can help people to prepare, cook or reheat food for themselves - eg 'microwave on high for 3 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 useful organisations').
Although a person with dementia may experience difficulties with eating and drinking, it's important to remember there are things that can support them. Offering solutions, making adaptations and increasing your knowledge about difficulties will mean that you can support the person with dementia to eat and drink well.