10 top tips for dignified mealtimes for someone living with dementia
Oomph Wellness in partnership with Kate Thubron,
Mindful Care Consultancy
- Set the scene
Dining rooms should be inviting, welcoming and have a family feel. The environment should provide sensory cues that it is time for a meal.
- Beware of the tableware and crockery
Use plain tablecloths, placements, and crockery. Patterned tableware can cause confusion and visual disturbances. Additionally, ensure that the plate and tablecloth are different tonal colours with the food also a different colour to the plate. E.g. white mashed potato on a white plate may be difficult to be seen.
- Advanced decisions
Avoid asking the person what they would like in advance – e.g in the morning after their breakfast! People with dementia experience difficulty with their short-term memory and will often struggle to remember what they requested. Allow the person to choose the food they want to eat at the time they will be eating it.
- Visual choices
Provide visual choices at mealtimes. This may be in the form of a visual menu or showing plated up meals to allow the person to use all their senses to decide what they would like to eat.
- Presentation of meals
Present the food in a nice manner, including pureed meals. Ask yourself whether you would be happy to receive and eat the meals provided.
- Protective clothing
Always give choice on whether someone would like to wear protective clothing for mealtimes and make sure these are dignified and not childlike. E.g dining scarfs.
- Finger foods
For those that find it hard to eat a full meal, finger foods may be more beneficial.
- Family mealtimes
Sit, eat and engage with residents at mealtimes as a family. Do not stand at the side and watch.
- Opportunities for independence
Provide opportunities for independence. This could be serving vegetables from a self-serving bowl on the table, using adapted cutlery or putting sugar in their tea with assistance.
- Hand under Hand
Become aware of Teepa Snows Hand under Hand technique to help those needing assistance with mealtimes.