Tips from Oklahoma Memory Care: Easy Meals for People with Dementia

Making meals for people with dementia is one more priority on top of providing activities of daily living assistance, supervision, socialization, and exercise when possible. Caring for a loved one living with Alzheimer’s or another form of cognitive impairment is a full-time job.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, 129,000 family members in Oklahoma provide care to a relative with dementia. This heroic effort amounts to 244 million hours of care every year. Much of that time involves trying to come up with something to eat.

What kind of nutrition do people with Alzheimer’s need?

A balanced diet featuring everything from fresh fruits and vegetables to whole grains benefits everyone, including people with Alzheimer’s and dementia. Serve your loved one food that contributes to overall health.

Jasmine Estates of Edmond | Senior man eating a healthy meal with help from his caregiver

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Proper hydration is a priority. Have water available at all times or make small amounts available throughout the day. Encourage foods like soups and smoothies that double as nutrition and hydration. Check with your loved one’s doctor before making significant changes to your diet.

Feel free to make these meals to enjoy together. Caregiver burnout can often stem from a poor diet and a lack of prioritizing your needs. Follow these guidelines for healthier nutrition and easy meal options for people with dementia.

Whole Grains

Whole grains are an excellent source of nutrients like fiber, B vitamins, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, and zinc. Some easy and popular ways to introduce these benefits are:

  • Oatmeal
  • Whole grain wheat and rye toast
  • Quinoa salads
  • Brown rice dishes
  • Homemade popcorn for a snack

Fruits and Vegetables

Green leafy vegetables are linked to nutrients that encourage healthy brain activity. Bright-colored berries and other fruits contain flavonoids. This antioxidant is good for memory and cardiovascular health. Consider adding these flavors to your weekly menu:

  • Broccoli and kale salad
  • Yogurt with peaches and raspberries
  • Cottage cheese and strawberries
  • White, green, or black tea infused with extra fruit


Amyloid beta is the hallmark protein that builds up in the brain and causes the plaques and tangles associated with Alzheimer’s. Foods like fatty fish are high in omega-3, which can lower amyloid levels in the blood.

Omega-3 fatty acids are also good fat. Avoid proteins high in saturated fat and cholesterol like fried meats and fatty cuts of beef. Encourage meals with:

  • Salmon or mackerel
  • Canned tuna or sardines
  • Lean poultry
  • Walnuts
  • Avocados

Low-Fat Dairy Products

People require fewer calories as they age. However, some people with dementia may have a hard time maintaining weight. Introduce low-fat, high-calorie foods in snacks or smaller meals throughout the day. Avoid dairy that is highly processed and full of refined sugars. Try:

  • Smoothies with whole milk and fruits
  • Cheese sticks
  • Ice cream (in moderation)
  • Yogurt

Dementia and Eating Sweets

Taste buds tend to change with age, and a person with dementia may not want to eat as much. During this process, you may notice an uptick in craving foods that will satisfy a sweet tooth.

Sweet treats can sometimes encourage eating but remember to serve sugary substances in moderation. Fruit is an excellent source of natural sugar. Natural sweeteners like agave, honey, or juice can also supply healthier alternatives.

Research shows that wanting sweets and dementia go hand in hand. People with frontotemporal dementia can be especially high-risk for craving sugar. A drop in serotonin levels can increase sugar cravings.

Refined sugars, artificial sweeteners, and alcohol are all seen as things that can be detrimental to brain health. Keep sweets and treats in moderation.

How to Feed Someone with Dementia

A traditional practice of three large meals a day may not work for people with dementia. Smaller meals throughout the day or snacks between meals can encourage healthy eating habits.

Sit with your loved one during meals and make it a social experience. Eat the same way you serve them to lead by example. You can also observe their eating habits and learn to recognize the food they do not like or may have difficulty eating. Limit distractions like television and let the person focus on eating.

Use smaller dishes with bright colors. One study discovered that dementia patients who ate off red plates consumed 25 percent more. Your loved one may not eat as much if they can’t see or distinguish their food.

Finger foods may be easier for a person with dementia to eat. Adapt how you serve foods by trying:

  • Serving soup in a cup or mug to make drinking broth easier.
  • Presenting the food of a meal one at a time. Introduce a side dish before the serving of protein.
  • Limiting the number of utensils on the table by pre-cutting food.
  • Letting food cool down to a temperature that won’t burn their mouth.
  • Offering a straw to drink beverages.
  • Avoid distractions and make food the focal point of the table.

Understand that giving a person a lot of options may be overwhelming. Serve them food you think they like and have a backup prepared in case. Don’t take it personally if they don’t want what is presented.

Don’t make mealtime a struggle or an argument. Sometimes waiting a few minutes and trying again will yield better results.

Memory Care in Edmond, Oklahoma

Jasmine Estates of Edmond is a senior living community in Edmond, OK. Our community specializes in Alzheimer’s and dementia care and is located 20 minutes north of the OU Health University of Oklahoma Medical Center.

Memory care provides relief by taking the duties of caretaking away from family members. Our specialized team members provide support through our signature, A Garden Walk program:

  • Individualized care plans
  • 24-7 emergency response
  • Activities of daily living assistance
  • Housekeeping and personal laundry services
  • Engaging activities and supervised outings
  • A secure environment, including outdoor areas
  • Chef-prepared meals in a restaurant-style dining room

Visit Our Oklahoma Memory Care Community

Let you and your loved one experience relief. Contact Jasmine Estates of Edmond to arrange a personal tour of our community. We can design a plan that honors and adds purpose to their life.

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