I’ve often found that senior living communities offer stronger dining programs to those without dementia.
But why is that?
I think that it’s mostly because there’s an assumption that people living with dementia won’t know or care that they’re getting different food or treatment. In one community where I worked, residents with dementia were constantly getting the short of the stick. (Don’t worry, that community was since purchased by a better company.) My residents never got food first, or often on-time: it was a constant battle with the kitchen.
Because my residents had different dining needs, they also needed different options: puree, mechanical soft foods, different utensils—this, and the kitchen was on another floor than my dementia care community. All of these pieces made getting the best food for my residents a real challenge.
Here are a few things communities can do to immediately improve their dementia care dining:
- Offer red plates > plain, off-white ones. Red plates stand out and help the food stand out and look more appetizing.
- Get puree molds. These are molds that allow food to actually LOOK like what it really is. These make puree foods SO much more appealing!
- Provide background music. Have you ever been to a quiet restaurant? (It’s weird.)
- Offer utensils and equipment that meet the needs of your residents! Not everyone can use a normal plate without making a mess: try a plate guard.
- Offer 2 choices. 2 choices are perfect: residents with dementia can still choose which they’d like to eat without being overhwlemed.
These are five easy things to improve your dining program immediately. These can even be used at home!