Good food is an important part of life.
It gives you energy, it can bring pleasure, and it can be a way of enjoying the company of family and friends.
But eating well might not be as easy as it used to be. There are ways around this.
If you find it hard to get to the shops, talk to a dietitian, a social worker or an occupational therapist.
They’ll be able to find ways to help, like linking you to local services, setting up online shopping or organising home delivery.
If you have problems finding the foods you like when shopping or knowing which foods are best for you to choose, talk to a dietitian.
If your local shops don’t cater for your culture, and you’re now finding it harder to get the food you like, talk to a social worker or a dietitian.
It may also help to have a companion with you when shopping to help find things you need more easily. If you don’t have a carer or friend to go with you, a dietitian or social worker might be able to put you in contact with community organisations that can help.
Many people with dementia find their tastes have changed.
Others find they can’t eat as much as they used to, or find it hard to cook for themselves. If this is the case for you, talk to a dietitian or an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health worker. They can work with you to discover what you like, what is easy for you to get and prepare, and how to give yourself the variety you need.
An occupational therapist might suggest some changes to your usual cooking routines, or simpler ways to cook your meals if you are finding it difficult. They might suggest setting up things in your kitchen differently to make cooking safer and easier, like labelling your cupboards to help you remember where things are.
A dietitian can also provide ideas for quick and nourishing meals and snacks. They can also provide quick economic recipes such as one-pot meals and microwave meals for one.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health worker
If you’ve lost interest in eating, talk to your carer, your family or your friends.
It can be hard to eat alone, and sometimes just sharing a meal helps. Or talk to a dietitian.They can find ways to keep your strength up.
Some people find it hard to remember to eat. And some people find it hard to hold a knife, a fork, a spoon or chopsticks. If so, an occupational therapist can help. And they can help make sure that where you eat is set up in the best possible way for you.
If you have discomfort with your teeth, gum or dentures, or trouble with keeping them clean, you can call a dental clinic for advice.
If your teeth seem okay but you’re having trouble chewing or swallowing, then a speech pathologist can help. They’re experts in how the mouth and
If your mouth is dry, you can talk to a pharmacist about whether or not your medications are playing a part, or talk to the dental clinic about other possible causes.
If you’re losing weight and you don’t need to, or if you’re very overweight, talk to a dietitian.
Once you talk about what and when you eat, they can advise you:
- what food you should be eating and how much
- why these foods are important to you
- ways to improve your appetite and food intake
- high-density nutrition supplements.
An occupational therapist can also help you function more easily at home so you eat the right foods at the right times.
Yang was hospitalised after a fall at home. Her low weight concerned the hospital staff, so after she was discharged, a dietitian visited Yang at home.
There were many reasons why Yang wasn’t eating well. The dietitian made lots of suggestions, which the family took on board. These included:
- arranging more in-home care so Yang could spend more time at home, eating in an environment that was familiar and consistent
- changing the table setting – for example, removing the highly patterned placemats which were distracting Yang
- offering smaller and more nutritious meals
- adding high energy snacks between meals
- adding a high-protein drink two to three times a day.
The National Dementia Helpline is an Australian Government funded initiative.