Eating and drinking

6. Sensory difficulties

Temperature

Some people with dementia will lose the ability to judge the temperature of food. Make sure food is not too hot, as it could burn the person's mouth and cause eating to become uncomfortable.

Drinking enough

The sensation of thirst changes as people get older, which can sometimes mean the person isn't aware they're thirsty. A person with dementia may also have similar problems. They may be less able to provide drinks for themselves. The person should be encouraged to drink throughout the day. The recommended amount is 1.5 - 2 litres a day.

Just placing a drink in front of someone doesn't mean they will drink it. Also, an empty cup doesn't always mean that the person has drunk its contents. It may have been spilled, drunk by someone else, or poured away.

Ensuring the person drinks enough: tips for carers

  • Have a drink on hand whenever the person is eating something.
  • Use a clear glass so the person can see what's inside, or a brightly coloured cup to draw attention.
  • If possible, offer the person the cup or put it in their line of sight.
  • Describe what the drink is and where it is, so that if the person has a problem with their sight they are still able to find the drink.
  • Offer different types of drink (both hot and cold) throughout the day such as soup, water, fruit juice and tea. All fluids count.
  • Make sure the cup or glass is suitable - not too heavy or a difficult shape.
  • Foods that are high in fluid can help, eg gravy, jelly and ice cream.