Cooking together can be an enjoyable activity, and can perhaps even be the highlight of the day! Taking part in the preparation, even if only as an onlooker, also stimulates the appetite and makes mealtimes easier.
There has been a growing interest in the field of dietary and lifestyle factors that mitigate the effects of dementia, with more research being done in these areas now than before.
There are a lot of things that can be done both with the food and the mealtime environment to increase the dementia patient’s appetite, body weight and to enhance their mood. One of the most important aspects is to tailor the experience of cooking and eating food to the patient. He or she may not be able to chop the vegetables, but may, on the other hand, be able to stir the saucepan. Just let them play an active part when the food is being cooked! As well as stimulating various senses, cooking also increases the appetite.
There are many things you can do to make the eating environment easier. A person with dementia often needs a neat environment around them to help them to interpret various situations.
Tips for making things easier
- Setting the table and serving in a conscious way.
- Setting the table using colours that contrast with those of the food you will be eating, so that it is easy to distinguish the plate, fish, vegetables and potatoes.
- Try laying the table using only the things that are necessary, putting out only the items needed for the meal. This minimises the number of impressions.
- For example, instead of putting a bread basket on the table you could ask them whether they would like a sandwich once you have finished eating.
- Use red colours! Red is often associated with sweetness in food. Having something red with or in the food is therefore much appreciated. For example: jam, paprika, ketchup, tomatoes, beetroot, etc. If you cannot come up with anything red to have in the food, use something red when laying the table!