October 11, 2022

Happy senior women preparing food together

Food is something that brings us all together, and these tips can help you use food to connect with a loved one who has dementia.

If there is one thing that connects us all, it is food! Think about how many precious memories have been made over the years that included food at the center of them all: wedding celebrations, holiday meals, birthday parties. Even average days involve routines that become ingrained in us around food, from that first aromatic cup of coffee in the morning to a shared bowl of buttery popcorn with family while watching a movie.

It’s not surprising that food is not just a necessity for our physical health, but often a powerful way to connect with a loved one who has dementia. Here are some activities you can try to help spark memories while engaging all of the senses through food.

  • Preparing. Choose a straightforward recipe to prepare, such as sandwiches or fruit salad. Gather together the ingredients and incorporate them into your conversation. While washing and cutting up fruit, for example, ask the older adult what kinds of fruits they enjoyed as a young child. 
  • Decorating. Frost cupcakes while reminiscing about the treats Mom would prepare for school birthday parties. Roll out cookie dough and use cookie cutters and sprinkles to make them specific to an upcoming holiday while you discuss holidays past. 
  • Storytelling. Pull out a vintage cookbook and look through the recipes together to see if any spark memories. The senior loved one may recall food rationing during wartime, or the time they tried a new recipe at the beginning of their marriage which was a complete disaster. If a specific recipe is of interest, make it together!

Think about how to incorporate each one of the senses into mealtimes. There’s much more to food than taste! Point out the appetizing scent of the chicken you’re roasting for dinner, the sizzling sound of sausage frying, the cool smoothness of bread dough being kneaded. Attempt to make each plate served appetizing to the palate as well as the eyes. And whenever possible, foster discussions that link the senior to past memories.

In many cases, a person with Alzheimer’s will encounter a diminished appetite and lose interest in food. Activities such as these can be a great way to revive the joy we experience together through shared meals and treats. 

Our dementia caregivers have lots more strategies to make life the best it can be for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Get in touch with Continuum’s experts in Chesterfield in-home care any time at (314) 863-9912 or (636) 861-3336 to request dementia care resources or to get additional information on our customized in-home care services. Visit our Service Area page for a full list of the areas where we offer care.