Tips for Eating Out with Someone Living with Dementia

Written by Active Minds on Thursday the 5th of March 2020.


For someone living with dementia, getting out and about may not always be easy.  Considerations will sometimes have to be made to ensure the time spent out is enjoyable for all, whether this is visiting somewhere which is dementia friendly, accessible, has less crowds or has a familiar decor. Visiting familiar places and experiencing favoured activities with a person living with dementia can be highly beneficial for socialisation and encouraging conversations.

Eating out is an activity enjoyed by many, and with the right preparations, it can continue to be a favoured activity for someone living with dementia. Here we will discuss just some tips for eating out with someone living with dementia.

Familiar Places

Routine and familiarity play a large role in the lives of people living with dementia and anything out of the ordinary may cause confusion or agitation. For this reason, it is not only advisable to include a trip out as part of the usual routine, but to also make it to somewhere familiar so that the person with dementia feels safe and secure in the environment.

If you know a place which has long been a favourite it is a good idea to stick to it. It is likely this place is a favourite due to the good times which have been spent there and the atmosphere and experience may be helpful in sparking conversations and memories around previous visits.

Familiar Foods

Choosing a place which serves familiar food can be highly beneficial for aiding in reminiscence and helping to ensure that the person enjoys and wants to eat the food. As appetite can change as someone progresses along the dementia journey, it’s important to consider these changes.

Eating food is a sensory experience and tastes and smells do have the ability to trigger emotions and memories. Therefore, familiar foods can be extremely comforting and even spark conversations about previous experiences.

Choose Somewhere Quiet

Busy environments can be overwhelming for someone living with dementia, so it is best to choose somewhere as quiet as possible both in terms of the restaurant or café and in terms of where you sit when you get there. Choosing a quieter time can also be beneficial; avoiding times such as between the hours of 12-2pm and 6-8pm as these tend to be busier times for lunch and dinner. Instead look to go just before or after the rush to avoid any unnecessary stress.

It is important however to consider the person with dementias daily routines, as eating at different times may cause disruption and agitation. If this is the case, choosing locations which are dementia friendly can be beneficial as they will ensure a calmer atmosphere.

Also picking a table which is away from the hustle and bustle and noise, so that you can communicate with ease can also help them feel more relaxed in the environment.

Be Aware of Appetite

Those living with dementia may be experiencing a loss of or change in appetite, so it is important to keep this in mind when eating out. It is important not to force the person with dementia to eat, but instead help encourage them by asking for a smaller portion so as to not overwhelm them, and by making sure the food served is their favourite as this may increase appetite.

Dementia Friendly Events

There are a variety of dementia friendly events, such as coffee mornings or social events which take place around the country. These can be perfect environments for someone living with dementia to encourage socialisation and help build connections whilst enjoying a meal out. Take a look in your local area for places which could be suitable for a person with dementia to experience dining out.

There are many ways to help ensure a meal out is enjoyable for someone living with dementia; listening to their preferences along with considering some of the above tips can help make the trip a positive experience for all.