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Supporting people living with dementia to eat and drink well

Good nutrition is important for everyone. A healthy diet for people living with dementia should include: 

  • eating a variety and balance of foods from the 5 food groups
  • drinking enough fluids
  • being able to choose what to eat and drink (within reason).

It’s common for a person living with dementia to experience a loss of appetite and in some cases forget how and when to eat and drink. This can cause them to not eat and drink enough, putting them at risk of dehydration and malnutrition. 

We’ve compiled our observations from visits to aged care services that are having a positive impact on people with dementia. We hope that sharing innovative and positive ideas helps services to support people with dementia to eat and drink well.

How some aged care services are creating a feeling of home

  • Asking residents or their family for recipes of their favourite foods, particularly if there has been changes to their appetite. Giving residents something familiar and enjoyable has encouraged them to eat.
  • Planting edible gardens that residents can look after and harvest the produce.
  • Encouraging residents to help prepare food and set the table.

How some aged care services are making mealtimes interactive and enjoyable

  • Creating unique experiences – one service made an in-house cooking show. A chef prepared and cooked the meal in front of the residents. They involved them in preparing the food and in conversations about food. 
  • Drawing on positive memories by creating restaurant style dining. Residents can dress up (if they want) and enjoy the experience of a waiter taking their order. 

How some aged care services are making mealtimes more important

  • Reducing interruptions at mealtimes, such as avoiding giving medications during meals.
  • Educating staff about best-practice to support residents with dementia to eat and drink.
  • Providing a 24-hour menu where residents can access full meals and nutritious snacks (not just plain biscuits, sandwiches or yoghurts). While also making sure the menu meets residents’ food preferences and their dietary requirements (like texture modified food and drink). 
  • Scheduling staff breaks outside of resident mealtimes.

Success through changes led by residents

Finally, many aged care services are looking for and creating recipes and mealtime experiences that are led by their residents. This includes recipes and experiences that are designed for:

  • older people
  • people living with dementia
  • people having difficulties eating, drinking and swallowing.

With input from health professionals and chefs, many aged care services are creating meaningful, safe and nutritious food and dining experiences.

If you have examples of innovative success stories happening in your service, we’d love to hear from you. You can send them to:

For more information on food, nutrition and dining, visit our resources:

Other resources:

Don’t forget that you can contact our Food, Nutrition and Dining Hotline to speak with a professional. You can talk about issues, ideas or concerns you have about providing an enjoyable food, nutrition and dining experience. You can contact the hotline on 1800 844 044, Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm (AEDT).

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