3 Sweet Treats for Someone With Dementia Who's Having Trouble Swallowing

Many people continue to have a preference for sweets even as other aspects of appetite fade and swallowing becomes more difficult. By the severe stage of your loved one's dementia, there's little downside to indulging a taste for sweets, if it applies.

Here are three choices to try:

  • A milkshake

Milkshakes are a good way to get calcium (from milk and ice cream) into a finicky eater or someone who has trouble swallowing. But really, at this stage of disease, most doctors agree the nutrition in food is secondary to the pleasure it can provide. For a lifelong chocoholic, a chocolate shake can trigger special gratification.

  • A fruit smoothie

When made with yogurt and fruit, you provide a calcium- and nutrient-rich cocktail, and you can mix endless combinations. You can add a little ground flaxseed for the beneficial omega-3 fatty acids and fiber.

  • A small bit of jam placed on the tongue

For a sweet taste without a lot of swallowing, try placing a small portion (a pea-sized amount) on the person's tongue -- not enough to choke but enough to be savored. Go for high-quality jams made mainly of whole fruit, whose flavors will be richer.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio