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How to Use Food to Engage With a Person With Alzheimer’s

person with Alzheimer's
Learn how to use food to engage and connect with a person with Alzheimer’s or other dementias.

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

It’s no surprise that food isn’t only a necessity for our physical health, but often a highly effective way to connect with a person with Alzheimer’s or other form of dementia. Here are a few activities you can try to help spark memories while appealing to all the senses through food.

  • 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 as you discuss holidays past.
  • Preparing. Decide on an easy recipe to prepare, such as sandwiches or fruit salad. Assemble the ingredients and incorporate them into your conversation. While washing and cutting up fruit, for instance, ask the senior what kinds of fruits they enjoyed as a child.
  • Storytelling. Pull out a vintage cookbook and look through the recipes together to see if any spark memories. The older adult may recall food rationing during wartime, or perhaps the time they tried a new recipe early in their marriage that was a complete disaster. If a specific recipe is of interest, make it together!

Consider how to incorporate each of the senses into mealtimes. There’s so much more to food than taste! Point out the delicious scent of the meat you are roasting for dinner, the sizzling sound of sausage frying, or the cool smoothness of bread dough being kneaded. Try to make each plate served appetizing to the palate as well as the eyes. And as much as possible, foster conversations that link the person to past memories.

Quite often, a person with Alzheimer’s will experience a diminished appetite and lose interest in food. Activities such as these can be a terrific way to restore the joy we experience together through shared meals and treats.

Our Alzheimer’s care experts have a lot more tips to make life the very best it can be for a person with Alzheimer’s disease. Connect with Home Sweet Home In-Home Care, a trusted provider of senior care in Battle Creek, MI and nearby areas, at (866) 229-2505 to request Alzheimer’s care resources  or to get additional information on our personalized home care services.

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