Helping a person with dementia to maintain a healthy diet can be difficult for the people caring for them. This newly updated leaflet from Dementia UK aims to provide some positive tips on ways to help.
People with dementia may experience problems with eating and drinking. There are many reasons this might happen. They might:
- forget to eat or drink
- experience difficulties preparing food or drinks
- have difficulty recognising food items
- have a change in appetite or taste
Eating a healthy and balanced diet is important for a person’s physical and mental health. Not eating and drinking enough can increase the risk of dehydration, weight loss, a urinary tract infection and constipation. These health problems can be particularly problematic for someone with dementia as they can increase confusion and the risks of delirium, and sometimes make the symptoms of dementia worse.
This leaflet aims to provide some positive tips on ways to help including:
- Setting the scene for mealtimes: A familiar, sociable environment can help a person with dementia to feel more comfortable eating and drinking
- Encouraging a person with dementia to eat: Involve the person by asking them what they would like to eat. If they struggle to decide, you could give them two options of simple things you know they like and can manage. If appropriate, you could involve them in the food preparation
- Encouraging a person with dementia to drink: A person with dementia may not always be able to recognise when they are thirsty, or they might not be able to communicate their thirst. But nevertheless, it is recommended to aim for about eight glasses of fluid per day
- Stocking up and storing food: A person with dementia might need help keeping track of what food they have at home and storing food safely
- Weight gain or weight loss: Some of the eating and drinking issues associated with dementia can lead to weight loss. Pureed food is less nutritious, and people with dementia are at risk of malnutrition.
Full leaflet: Eating and Drinking. Staying well with dementia | Dementia UK