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Dementia is affecting more and more people and this will rise dramatically over the coming years. This can cause problems with meal and nutrition planning and also when serving meals for people with Dementia as they have trouble using cutlery and they can have coordination problems making mealtimes challenging.

Weight loss is common for a number of different reasons, they may not recognise that they are hungry or lack appetite,  if they are living at home they may have difficulty cooking or difficulty chewing or swallowing their food. They may simply be too tired to finish their meal.

People living with dementia also are easily distracted, they lose their appetite quickly or lose interest in food and they can forget they have already eaten. If they stop eating you shouldn’t assume they have finished a remove their plate, give them time.

These problems can cause them to not eat as much, therefore, have a lower calorie, protein, vitamin and mineral intake and their hydration can also be reduced.

It is important to have foods that are easily eaten, so you can, for example, peel a banana first, rather than them trying to peel it before eating it.  If they have trouble using a knife and fork, consider providing adapted cutlery or cut the meal into small portions and let them eat with a spoon, you could also think about providing buffet type foods that can easily be eaten by hand and provide help with eating when necessary.

When planning meals ensure that they have enough quantity with the right nutritional values to ensure that they do not lose weight or become undernourished.  Make meals look and smell appealing and give them smaller portions of food you know they like. Always ensure that enough fluids are taken as well to improve health and nutrition and have a drink ready in a cup or glass that is easy to use.

Make sure that the atmosphere at mealtime is relaxed and give encouragement, if they want to eat their pudding but don’t want their main course, let them.  If they eat slowly think about serving their hot meals in two separate smaller portions to avoid the food getting cold.

You can get more advice on diet and nutrition for suffers from Dementia form many different charities or health workers. You may plan the nutritionally perfect meal, but if the person with Dementia cannot physically eat it, then your planning will go to waste.