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Eating & Dementia

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Ensuring a nutritious diet for elderly and people living with dementia is actually the least we can do.dementia4

The importance of healthy eating for our older generation resonated with me when I accepted an 

invitation to attend the National Association of Care Catering Christmas meeting. My host, a

community meals provider chatted his way through the two hour journey to York, expressing his

company’s commitment to providing nutritious food. Finishing with their ‘safe and well’ procedure,

the narrative was a wonderful insight into a service which warmed my heart at the care behind

these services.

Having spent much time discussing meal-time approaches with residential home managers, daydementia2

centre providers and frontline carers, the most talked about issue after nutrition, was the difficulty in

encouraging people to eat.

Dementia can affect a person’s relationship to food, impacting on their eating habits, meal-times

and food choices. Finding their way to the dining room, managing cutlery or swallowing can

become difficult for some people.

Enriched social care can play a big part in enhancing a person’s well-being.

 

 

At Happy Days ~

Dementia Workshop, we believe that ‘You can’t care for a person until you care about them ~ and

 

to care about them, you must know who they are.’ Many residential care home managers are keen

 

to show me their ‘One-Person-Plan’ which often doesn’t include meal-time favourites or absolute

 

dislikes. Serving food to a person which they dislike eating may cause agitation or unrest. Todementia

 

contradict myself, some people with dementia change preferences away from their known

 

favourites, may not recognise hunger or have no desire to eat. That’s why we’ve created Happy

 

Days Memory Joggers, colourful resources with response areas to collate and edit food favourites

 

- handy for residents, carers and families to share information about favourites.

 

 

Meal-times are not only about the delivery of nutritious food, they are about encouraging someone

to want to eat and ensuring that they do. If a resident suddenly shows an aversion to eating, we

know to check denture fit, medication, illness, signs of anxiety or depression – but it may just be

that a person has forgotten about eating or not recognise the food on their plate.

Prompting experiences around eating and drinking may help. People with dementia still have

feelings and may respond to visual images linked to the senses; a freshly cut loaf may signify the

smell of newly baked bread and prompt taste buds, preparing the person to eat. Taste, textures

and conversational prompts around the subject of food, eating and food favourites can also help to

encourage eating.

 

 

Happy Days nostalgic food corridors, dining room displays and Time to Chat

memory prompts have been designed to help social interaction, prompting peoples’ appetites and

 

eating habits for healthy living.

 

 

Encouraging people to engage in daily activities is another way to promote the idea of meal times

and eating:

Laying the tables

Share out cards with menu images to residents before lunch

Placing daily menu images at the entrance to the dining area

Develop Happy Days nostalgic food corridor, dresser or wall display

Use dining, food and drink images in or near to dining areas

Reminder signs – Rehydrate ~ Drink Water

I was pleased to hear about the ‘safe and well’ checks provided by community meal services.

Eating alone can be a lonely experience. Linking up with volunteer visiting and befriending

organisations may be the way forwards in overseeing people who live alone eat well. Sometimes,

just the company of another person is all that is needed to encourage eating and to help initiate

conversations around food: ‘Dinner’s Ready’ by Happy Days, a collection of nostalgic food and

drink prompts can help to generate conversations and thoughts around lunch, dinner and

hydration.

By making a few creative refinements, we might help to keep mealtimes as enjoyable and stress

free as possible. People may not always remember what you said but they will always remember

how you made them feel.

Gillian Hesketh MA

Happy Days ~ Dementia

Workshop www.dementiaworkshop.co.uk Phone

01253-899163

 

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