Getting enough to eat and drink

How can I be sure that my wife, who has dementia, has enough to eat and drink?

Mealtimes are important and enjoyable times of the day for us all. Try to keep to regular meal times and eat together if possible. Having a regular routine helps. Prevent distractions at mealtimes, and keep the surroundings calm.

Check food likes and dislikes, as preferences can change over time, for instance, someone who used to prefer savoury foods may now only want to eat sweet things.

People living with dementia can sometimes forget to eat or drink throughout the day, or in the later stages forget how to prepare food and drinks.

If your wife has lost the ability to feed herself, or if she is forgetful, she will need your encouragement, guidance or help. Encourage independence as much as possible, and give assistance if accepted and if necessary.

If your wife is restless and won’t sit to eat, try offering foods that are easy to hold and eat on the go (sandwiches, fresh fruit, biscuits).

Ensure that there are no physical issues preventing your wife from eating or drinking, for example, e.g. ill-fitting dentures, pain, chewing or swallowing difficulties.

Discuss any concerns you have with the GP.

If you are concerned, discrete supervision around mealtimes will help you to understand how much is being eaten. Keep a record of your wife’s diet and fluid intake, and also her weight or appetite changes. This information could be shared with the GP if you have serious concerns, or if there is a substantial weight loss.