Eating and drinking

4. Problems with mental abilities

Recognising food and drink

People with dementia may struggle to recognise food and drink, which can result in it going uneaten. This can be due to damage that dementia causes to the brain, unfamiliar food, or how food is presented. If the person with dementia has problems with their sight, they may not be able to see the food. It may help to explain what the food is and to use pictures. Make sure the person is wearing the correct glasses. It's important not to assume that the person doesn't want to eat.


People with dementia may not be able to concentrate well, which means they may have difficulties focusing on a meal all the way through. This may be because they are tired. Don't assume someone has finished because they have stopped eating. Finger foods and smaller portions can help to make the task easier. If you are helping someone to eat and it goes on for too long, it can turn into a negative experience - eg the food can become cold.