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Maintaining Nutrition in Seniors With Dementia

Chris Timmons
Chris Timmons | August 14, 2014


Dementia is defined as a progressive decline in brain function. This includes memory loss, confusion and a variety of unusual behaviors. One sign of dementia may be weight loss. Preventing weight loss and maintaining nutrition in seniors is a challenge in many cases. The following are some common problems and suggested tips that may help improve intake and nutritional status.

Easily Distracted

  • Clear tables of any clutter

  • Soft lighting

  • Home-like décor

  • Familiar, favorite foods

  • Turn off the television if there is one in the dining area

Decreased Taste

  • Experiment with various spices and seasonings

Distrubed Feeding Skills

  • Make use of adaptive devices such as food bumpers and built-up utensils

  • Use plates that contrast in color with food and tabletop

  • Define each person’s space with a placemat

  • Use easy-to-grasp, clear cups so individuals can see the beverage

  • Move  people close to the table and be sure feet are flat

    on the floor or on wheelchair pedals

  • Monitor for continuous chewing

  • Provide soft foods that require less chewing

  • Describe foods as needed

  • Provide one food at a time

  • Provide reminders to pick up the

    spoon, chew, swallow, etc.

Pocketing of Food

  • Check to be sure good oral care is being followed

  • Be sure dentures fit

  • Monitor during meal and snack times

  • Cut food into small, bite-size pieces

  • Don’t leave unattended

Wandering or Constant Motion

  • Add high-calorie foods, especially those that can be eaten on the go

  • Add calories to regularly planned food with sauces, etc.

  • Encourage pausing for dining with continued reminders 

  • 1:1 attention at meals



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