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Dining With Your Loved One with Dementia - Early Stages

Dining with your loved one who has Dementia

Sharing a meal with your loved one with Dementia can be difficult to navigate when they first start showing signs. It can be tricky to know what to do and how to help your loved one successfully stay engaged in their eating process and still have a healthy desire for food. Here are some tips and tricks to hopefully make the transition smoother!

Let your loved one help you prep the food

Letting your loved one help you prep the meal can not only feel like they have helped and accomplished something but can also make them really encouraged to eat the food after its finished. Although your loved one may not be able to help in the sense that they used to help you prep the food like cutting ingredients or putting things in the oven, your loved one can still help you prep the meal. This may include more simple tasks such as washing the vegetables, buttering the bread, helping to set the table, etc.

Remember to offer them the choice to help but not to overload with steps or tasks. Too many options can easily agitate or confuse your loved one and they may shut down. Instead of giving them 4 tasks to complete try language such as “would you like to help set the table?” wait for them to finish and then ask if they would like to help with something else.

The table settings and seating arrangements

We recommend starting off with a simple table setting. Complicated patterns or too many prints on the table can overstimulate the eyes and make everything on the table more confusing to your loved one. Also try and keep your table free from things that are not vital to the meal and free of clutter. This will help as to not confuse your loved one as to what they need to pick up or use!

Also we recommend turning off other noises or TV’s in the area. Extra outside noise can be very overstimulating and cause behaviors that will not just affect the mood, but their appetite! You can try play a soothing background noise or their favorite calming music to help get them in a comfortable mood!