Needs help choosing and putting food on plate

  All Alzheimer's Symptoms

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.