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The Arbor Company Senior Living Blog

Diet, Nutrition & Meal Preparation Tips for Dementia Care

Jul 15, 2016 11:06:13 AM / Chef Jim Lee Chef Jim Lee

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There are a number of challenges that come with caring for someone who has dementia. While you might expect some of those challenges, such as forgetfulness or confusion, you may find a few challenges are not ones you anticipated. Dietary changes and nutritional adaptations are sometimes an unexpected part of the dementia process. People with dementia can experience a wide range of issues around food: some will eat less, some will lose the ability to navigate silverware or some may find a dining room environment too distracting. No matter the case, keeping healthy nutrition for those with dementia is especially important. Proper nutrition can assist with healing, potential skin issues, and other chronic conditions.

Skip the Utensils

While every situation is unique and all seniors should have the chance to influence their own care, sometimes family members or health care professionals can provide the best choices possible. One of the best ways to assure that your loved one is eating well, especially while in the mid stage of Alzheimer’s Disease or dementia, is to offer plenty of finger foods. These user friendly foods do not require forks or other utensils, are packed with healthy nutrition, and can be eaten on the go. For any senior who can no longer use tableware, or who tends to walk and wander throughout the day, finger foods are a wonderful option to keep calorie and vitamin intake healthy. Even better, finger foods offer a more dignified option for seniors with dementia and supports independence for a longer period of time.

Find the Right Foods

To better help you get a headstart on some of the tips and tricks that dementia care professionals use for different situations, take a look at our list of dementia friendly foods. These foods can be adapted to suit the tastes and preferences of your loved one. Bon apetit!

Bagels: Add butter and jelly, or up the calorie intake by slathering with peanut butter or cream cheese. If the bagel is too difficult for your loved one to manage, cut it into wedges and put the pieces on a plate near a counter where she will pass by often. Keeping food out (safely, of course) is more likely to encourage a bit of healthy snacking.

Fruit chunks: Slice up an apple or a melon for your loved one to enjoy. Berries and bananas are other great options for failure free foods that are packed with healthy vitamins.

Simple sandwiches: Make a healthy sandwich and slice it into a few segments. Try a nut butter with jelly, deli meat stacked with veggies, or another favorite.

Hard boiled eggs: These snacks are full of protein and can be eaten whole or sliced in half.

Roasted veggie wedges: Vegetables are an important part of your loved one’s diet, but it isn’t always easy to think of ways to make veggies into finger foods. An easy way to keep vegetables in your loved one’s diet is to cut them into thick wedges and roast them. Potatoes, zucchini, or squash lend themselves well to this method, as do cauliflower and broccoli. No utensils required!

Meat: Finding finger food meat options doesn’t have to be too difficult. Chunk your meat into bite sized pieces that are easy to grab. Meatballs, slices of meatloaf, chicken strips, or sliced pork chops are tasty options for your loved one and don’t require you to make any additional dishes for the rest of your table.

With a bit of experimenting and patience, you will soon find a finger food menu that is delicious and successful for your loved one.

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Topics: Dementia

Chef Jim Lee

Chef Jim Lee

As the dining consultant for The Arbor Company, Chef Jim Lee provides support in the area of food and dining services to various communities.

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