In Dementia Action Week we’ve been trying to raise awareness about the condition and give some hints and tips. Today we’re looking at eating and drinking.
Dementia can cause changes in the brain as the disease progresses that can affect eating and drinking. Lack of recognition of food can lead to fear of what is being offered while it can also cause poor co-ordination, difficulty swallowing and a change in taste.
Medication can result in appetite changes and poor dental hygiene, dentures or sore gums can all cause issues.
There may be overeating if someone has forgotten they have already eaten, there may be a change in dietary preferences, perhaps snacks, sweeter foods or finger foods, and there are also environmental aspects that can have an effect.
Offering smaller portions and allowing plenty of time can help.
- Snacks available for grazing at all hours: e.g. crisps, cookie biscuits, chocolate buttons
- Offer desserts: custard, rice pudding jelly, ice cream
- Consider softer textures: stewed fruit, scrambled egg, mashed potatoes
- Provide a quieter relaxed environment without distractions
- Social occasion: soft music, reminiscence interaction, drink with the individual to mirror the action.
- Adapted cutlery available /finger foods
- Be aware brain changes may cause altered food preferences: vegetarian, cultural, etc.