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Tuesday, 16 August 2016

Food Ideas for those who have Dementia/Alzheimers

As we are all very much aware, nutrition is big news within our Dementia Care and Alzheimers Care settings.

But what everyone forgets (or maybe takes the easy option to), is that Nutrition is just as important in a toddler as it is in a person with Dementia.

So I've compiled a few ideas, that are nutritional and fun.  So not a complete menu but just remembering that meal times don't have to be just Liver and Onions!

I appreciate that you'll likely read this an say "Finger Food! what are they on about?" but believe me it really is a viable idea.

People with Dementia and Alzheimers start to feel like they are lacking in capacity, meals become a chore and stressful, with a lack of appetite why can't we go back to basics and have fun with food?  For many this isn't an option, but being able to pick up and feed themselves is a preferable method of achieving nutrition on their own terms.

Just remember

  • Nutritional
  • High in Fibre (for constipation)
  • High in Folate (for anemia)

Finger food options

When devising finger food menus, consult menu planning guidelines to ensure meals are balanced and varied. All food groups need to be represented in appropriate quantities to ensure good variety and nutritional balance. Here, options for finger foods have been listed under the relevant food groups.

Bread, cereals and potatoes
Try a variety of breads for interest including wholemeal and white. Keep sandwiches small so they are easier to manage.

  • buttered toast or bread fingers
  • small bread rolls with butter
  • small sandwiches
  • buttered crumpets or muffins
  • bite size crackers with butter or soft cheese
  • scones, malt loaf, fruit loaf, teacakes of hot cross buns
  • waffles
  • slices or mini naan bread pieces
  • slices or finger pitta bread pieces
  • potato wedges and chunky chips (try sweet potatoes)
  • small roast potatoes
  • small boiled potatoes or cut into half
Meat, fish, eggs and cheese
Meat that is dry may be difficult to eat so keep it moist. Slice meat and cut into pieces or cubes. Examples include:

  • tender meat eg beef, pork or lamb
  • chicken or turkey breast (moist)
  • small meatballs, sausages and chipolatas
  • pieces of meatloaf
  • gammon pieces with pineapple cubes
  • pieces of fish fillet, (boned)
  • small fishcakes and fishfingers
  • vegetable burgers or sausages cut into pieces
  • hard boiled egg quartered
  • chicken nuggets or scampi pieces
  • mini quiche
  • meat /fish pieces kebab style
  • cheese cubed or sliced

  • Vegetables can be steamed, boiled or served raw, depending upon what the person prefers and can manage
  • carrot, swede or parsnip cut into sticks or cubes
  • broccoli spears
  • cauliflower florets
  • brussel sprouts
  • whole green beans or mangetout
  • celery sticks (fill with cream cheese) or pieces
  • cherry tomatoes
  • salad tomatoes cut into wedges
  • sliced peppers
  • baby mushrooms
Fruit can be peeled if preferred.

  • banana mini whole, chunks or slices
  • melon chunks
  • pineapple chunks
  • orange segments
  • slices of kiwi fruit
  • apple or pear chunks or slices
  • strawberries, raspberries and blueberries
  • apricots (stone removed) and halved
  • nectarines or peaches (stone removed) cut into halves
  • seedless grapes
  • ready-to-eat dried apricots, pears, apple rings, stoned prunes or figs
Miscellaneous sweet and savoury

  • slices of cake
  • mini sweet muffins or doughnut rings
  • mini cookies
  • biscuits
  • pieces of flapjack
  • sponge pudding cut into chunks, offer custard to dip into
  • cereal and fruit and nut bars
  • finger slices of toast and bread with peanut butter, jam, lemon curd, honey or chocolate spread
  • slices of pork pie
  • mini sausage rolls
  • pizza, mini pieces or sliced
  • finger slices of grilled cheese on toast
  • finger slices of toast or bread with cheese, pate, tuna mayonnaise or fish paste
  • bhajis and mini samosas

Encouraging appetite: tips for carers

There are lots of ways to stimulate appetite and interest in food and drink. Knowing the person will help, as everyone has their own routines, preferences and needs. You will also have a better idea about their likes and dislikes. It's also important to think about what they can physically manage.

  • Regular snacks or small meals are better than set mealtimes.
  • Make food look and smell appealing. Use different tastes, colours and smells. The aroma of cooking can stimulate someone's appetite.
  • Look for opportunities to encourage the person to eat. If the person with dementia is awake for much of the night then night-time snacks may be a good idea.
  • Provide food the person likes. Try not to overload the plate with too much food; small and regular portions often work best.
  • Try different types of food, eg milkshakes or smoothies.
  • Food tastes may change, so experiment with stronger flavours or sweet foods.
  • Do not withhold desserts if the person hasn't eaten their savoury meal. They may prefer the taste of the dessert.
  • If food goes cold it will lose its appeal. It can help to serve half portions to keep food warm, or to use the microwave to reheat food.
  • If the person is having difficulties chewing or swallowing, try naturally soft food such as scrambled egg or stewed apple in the first instance, before considering pureed food.
  • If you do consider pureed food, seek advice from a dietitian or speech and language therapist to make sure it's nutritious and remains flavoursome.
  • Encourage the person to get involved at mealtimes. They could help prepare the food or lay the table.
  • Positive encouragement and gentle reminders to eat, and of what the food is, may help.
  • A relaxed, friendly atmosphere with some soft music may help.
  • Use eating and drinking as an opportunity for activity and social stimulation.
  • It is always best to aim for the least stressful solutions. Common sense and a creative approach often help.

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