Using Food to Engage and Connect with Seniors with Dementia

Two happy senior women preparing food together
Learn how you can connect to seniors with dementia through food.

Food is the one thing that connects us all! Think about how many cherished memories have been made over the years that included food at the center of them all: holiday meals, wedding celebrations, 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 full of buttery popcorn with family while watching a movie.

It doesn’t come as a surprise that such a vital part of our physical health can also be a highly effective way to connect with seniors with dementia. Here are a few activities you can try to help spark memories while appealing to all the senses through food.

  • Take out an old cookbook and look through the recipes together to see if any spark memories. The senior may remember food rationing during wartime or the time they tried a brand new recipe at the beginning of their marriage which was a complete disaster. If a particular recipe is of interest, make it together!
  • Frost cupcakes while reminiscing about the treats Mom would prepare for school birthday parties. Roll out cookie dough and make use of cookie cutters and sprinkles to make them specific to an upcoming holiday while you discuss holidays past.
  • 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.

Consider how you can integrate each of these senses into mealtime. There is so much more to food than taste! Point out the appetizing scent associated with chicken you are roasting for dinner, the sizzling sound of bacon frying, or the cool smoothness of bread dough being kneaded. Attempt to make each plate served appetizing to the palate as well as the eyes. And as much as possible, foster discussions that link the person to memories from the past.

Oftentimes, seniors with dementia experience a diminished appetite and lose interest in food. Activities such as these can be a terrific way to revive the joy we experience together through shared meals and treats.

Our dementia care experts have many more tips to make life the very best it can be for someone with Alzheimer’s disease. Get in touch with JFS Care any time online or at 213-383-2273 to request dementia care resources or to find out more about our customized services for senior home care in Los Angeles and the nearby areas. See our full service area.