Dementia UK: new leaflet on eating and drinking

Although this leaflet is aimed at family carer, it might be a useful resource to your teams too or to flag to family and friends caring  for those you are providing services to.

Dementia UK have recently published a new leaflet suggesting ways for family carers to help the person they look after eat and drink well.

You can read the leaflet here. Or visit the website here to find out about ordering hard copies.

Different types of dementia act upon different areas of the brain, affecting people’s behaviour around food and drink in various ways. For instance, people with a diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia are more likely to develop a sweet tooth and only want to eat to sugary food; whereas people with a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease are more likely to experience difficulty recognising the sensations of hunger and thirst in themselves, or simply to forget to eat and drink.

Dr Hilda Hayo, our CEO and Chief Admiral Nurse said: “People with dementia need a healthy and balanced diet to help to prevent dehydration, weight loss, urinary tract infections and constipation. These problems can lead to discomfort, delirium and can even make dementia symptoms worse.”

Admiral Nurses suggest:

  • Set the scene by creating a familiar and comfortable eating environment

Specially adapted cutlery is available for people with dementia. Using plain plates can help them see the food more easily.

  • Avoid overwhelming the person with dementia with too much choice

Two simple options means the person can be involved in decision making (if appropriate). Showing the person the food you are talking about can be helpful.

  • Help the person with dementia recognise thirst

Keep a drink beside them at all times, and place it where it can be easily seen. Cups with nozzles or straws can be easier to manage for some people.

  • Eat with the person with dementia for encouragement

Eating alongside the person might encourage them to take an interest in their food, as well as providing some comfort and sense of social connection.