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Dining Strategies for Patients with Dementia

By RehabCare

Patients who suffer from dementia may need additional dining support to eat comfortably and independently at mealtime. Conducting an assessment of mealtime routines can help improve this function and plays an important role in quality reporting. Eating is included in the Section GG scoring as an important self-care item, stating:

The ability to use suitable utensils to bring food and/or liquid to the mouth and swallow food and/or liquid once the meal is presented on a table/tray. Includes modified food consistency.

Dining Strategies for Patients with Dementia

Consider these strategies when assessing and monitoring eating activities of patients with dementia:

  • Encourage eating in the dining room and use a square 2 or 4-person table of an appropriate height
  • Provide adequate lighting without glare and properly position the patient to see and reach their food
  • Minimize distractions and seat compatible residents together
  • Arrange food to facilitate self-feeding or consider finger foods if utensils are difficult to use
  • Use contrasting colors for dishware and table, as well as food and dishware
  • If possible, position patient out of bed and seated in a chair that promotes good posture and comfort
  • Assess for and provide appropriate utensils, plates and cups as clinically indicated
  • Provide appropriate level cues to initiate and continue with self-feeding
  • Consult with family members on food preferences
  • Provide appropriate diet texture/liquid based on assessment
  • Develop a relationship with and communicate regularly with the dietitian
  • Integrate rehab in the dining room, considering weekly dining rounds
  • Encourage frequent observation of dining by the patient’s interdisciplinary team

Through RehabCare’s Forward Thinking Program, we have comprehensive care offerings focused on helping patients with chronic cognitive and memory impairments reach the highest possible levels of independence. For more information about how RehabCare can partner with your facility, contact us at 1.800.545.0749, extension 67640.

By RehabCare