How to Help Someone With Dementia Make Restaurant Choices

Does the person you're caring for hesitate or seem perplexed by a long menu? Difficulty making choices is common in early- and mid-stage dementia. What was once simple has become more challenging due to a combination of memory loss, loss of judgment and the ability to process options, and fear of saying something wrong.

Some ways to help:

  • Don't mistake respectfulness for helping. It might seem kind to wait patiently while your companion orders, but this can actually heighten his or her anxiety and confusion.

  • Instead, gently preempt a choice by stepping in with a suggestion: "Look, today's special is your favorite: salmon." Or, "I'm having salmon. You, too?"

  • Alternately, narrow the many options on the menu to just two: "Which sounds better to you: salmon or chicken?"

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