You can read a sample section from the publication,Â Alzheimer’s Society guide to catering for people with dementiaÂ below. This excerpt is taken from the section on finger foods.
At mealtimes people with dementia may struggle to eat using any type of cutlery as their dementia progresses. Difficulties with co-ordination may develop and consequently the person may find picking up food and eating with their fingers much easier to do. Foods that are eaten with the hands are called finger foods. In essence finger foods are like party or buffet foods – easy to pick up and eat. For many people with dementia this is far preferable to having someone else ‘feed’ them. It is a more dignified way of eating and offers the person greater control over their mealtime as they can choose what they eat from a plate. This control is also a boost to self-esteem and confidence at mealtimes which can help to improve well-being and food intake. Finger foods can also be eaten whilst standing or on the move, which is ideal for those people who have difficulty remaining seated for a meal
Providing a finger food menu can be hugely beneficial for people with dementia. However, such a menu needs to be creative and varied, as people can quickly tire of a repetition of small sandwiches and sausage rolls. Consideration of food texture is also important, if a person prefers soft foods, then raw vegetables are not going to be popular, however cheese spread on finger slices of bread may be perfect.Finger foods are easy to prepare in advance as they are served at room temperature; there is no rush to get people to eat, as they do not go cold if a person eats slowly. People with dementia may have fluctuating capabilities from one mealtime to the next and may respond better to finger foods at certain mealtimes than using a knife and fork.It is worth bearing in mind that some people may take a while to adjust to eating with their hands and may initially reject the meal or seem uncertain what to do. Care staff need to take the time to describe the food on the plate, show the person what to do so that they can copy the actions and allow the person time to look at the food and explore it.
When devising finger food menus, consult menu planning guidelines to ensure meals are balanced and varied. All food groups need to be represented in appropriate quantities to ensure good variety and nutritional balance. Here, options for finger foods have been listed under the relevant food groups.
Bread, cereals and potatoes
Try a variety of breads for interest including wholemeal and white. Keep sandwiches small so they are easier to manage.
Meat, fish, eggs and cheese
Meat that is dry may be difficult to eat so keep it moist. Slice meat and cut into pieces or cubes. Examples include:
Fruit can be peeled if preferred.
Miscellaneous sweet and savoury
This is an excerpt from the publication,Â Alzheimer’s Society guide to catering for people with dementia. If you would like to purchase a copy, please visit theirÂ online shop.
Nearest tube: Elephant & Castle underground station (Northern and Bakerloo lines).
Nearest Railway Station: Elephant & Castle
Buses from Elephant and Castle: ask bus driver for Burgess Park. Bus numbers: 12, 171, 148, 176, 68, 484, 42, 40, 45