Needs help choosing and putting food on plate
When it happens
Middle of moderate-stage dementia
Why it happens
Brain changes change eating habits by making it hard to evaluate options, select among them, and control the fine motor skills needed to manipulate a serving spoon from dish to plate.
What you can do
Serve plates of food to everyone at the table, rather than setting out food so that people can help themselves family-style.
Alternately, plate the food for the person with dementia so that it's already at their place when seated.
Serve the person a plate with food already cut into bite-sized pieces.
Don't put too much food on the plate; it can seem overwhelming. Likewise, don't put too many different types of food on a plate, since this requires more decision making and can cause enough anxiety to disrupt appetite.
Monitor the plate through the meal, so you can offer seconds (or different types of food) as needed; the person may not be able to ask.
Also monitor that the person is indeed eating; you may need to remind him or her throughout the meal.
Serve finger foods such as sandwiches if manipulating silverware (getting fork to mouth, say) is becoming difficult.
Let the person eat what he or she wants to first -- if he or she shows a preference -- even if it's dessert. Don't stand on tradition or ceremony.