TIP: A Simple Idea to Smooth Dining Out With Someone Who Has Dementia

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If dining out risks being an embarrassment to you or the person you're caring for -- because your companion has trouble choosing what to order or sometimes says inappropriate things -- you needn't give up this kind of outing.

Instead, consider using a discreet card of explanation. Write on a small business-sized card, "My friend (or parent or spouse) has a memory problem. Please address your questions to me." Discreetly hand it to the hostess (or server) when you're seated. The point isn't for your companion to be ignored but to avoid having him or her feel put on the spot. And you won't have to make potentially awkward explanations.


about 1 year ago, said...

Yes it was and also pertains to many other health issues, i.e., deafness, blindness and muscle disorders. Thank you.


about 4 years ago, said...

Dementia covers more than just indecisiveness and memory loss. i think most people will accommodate someone with those issues. However, when it comes to the inappropriate behaviors and loss of manners, that is more difficult. These are the more "embarrassing" issues for many. I tend to let people be who they are -- now, once it gets disturbing to other patrons (loud, inappropriate behaviors) then i think it might be time to stop going. however, until then -- let's go eat !!


about 5 years ago, said...

Fortunately my DH seems to want me to do the ordering. I've found that for his hamburger (at a sit-down, not fast food) if I ask for them to cut it in half in the kitchen he's not so bufuddled on how to start eating it. Also, he goes for the fries (I forget they "come with" ) so I ask them to put only half an order on his plate. Otherwise he eats all the fries first, not the real food. Kind of like a child would do! They think his demntia is vascular.


about 5 years ago, said...

I helped my mom make her decision, then, when the server came to take orders, I'd say, "Mom, you wanted the spaghetti, right?" And she'd agree and not be put on the spot to make a decision.


about 5 years ago, said...

We advise caregivers to do the following when dining out. They are designed for patients in late stage 4 (meaning they are no longer cooking, cleaning, and running the thermostat appropriatly) and stage 5 (need prompting with bathing, grooming, choosing clothing). 1. Eat in simple service restarants. Avoid buffets, extra-complicated menu's, and large groups in your party 2. Eat prior to or after a meal rush time 3. Eat out earlier in the day 4. Eat out only when the patient is having a goood day and is werll-rested 5. Eat often at the same restaurant so it is not unfamiliar 6. Suggest a favorite thing to the patient so they don't have to try to figure out the menu. 7. If the patient says they want to leave, pay the bill and leave. If you don't there can be bahavioral problems up to 36 hours later. 8. If the patient has issues with eating off of other people's tables, making rude statements, etc use the cards suggested in the first post. These are helpful as if you announced it to others the patient would be angered. 9. When you are done eating, leave. Geri R Hall, PhD, ARNP, GCNS-BC, FAAN Advanced Practice Nurse Banner Alzheimer's Institute


about 5 years ago, said...

LOL...I am thinking of one of the last times I took my aunt out for dinner. Every week I would pick her up and take her to look at houses or just a ride to look around, something she always enjoyed doing. We would go to lunch or dinner and of course that poses it's own difficulties of getting an extra plate and putting just a little bit of food on her plate at a time and talking to her so that she didn't notice that she was eating. Anyway we were seated in a booth and a couple across the isle from us had tatoos all over their arms. My aunt blurted out, in a loud voice, "what has that man done to himself!" and of the lady "that lady eats way too much food. She needs to take better care of herself!". Needless to say we did not go to dinner again. I would take things to her and we would have informal lunches or dinners in her apartment. Those are fond memories! I'm glad she is at peace now!


about 5 years ago, said...

We eat out at least twice/week. I never thought of doing this. So far we haven't had any embarrassing situations.


over 5 years ago, said...

I felt bad about the idea of sneaking a card like that, and worse yet the thought of my husband (early mid-stage) noticing and feeling humiliated. We work with the menu together, and I remind him about what he's liked before. I don't mean to judge; I guess this will change as the disease progresses, at which point he might not notice the card changing hands. Thank you for all your efforts to help people.