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HealthInfo Canterbury

Eating well with dementia

Older people with dementia are especially at risk of eating poorly.

Dementia can make it harder to prepare, eat, and enjoy meals.

In later stages:

Eat a variety of foods

Eating well can help you feel more energetic and live in your own home for longer. Not eating and drinking enough can worsen the symptoms of dementia.

Eat a variety of nutritious foods, such as:

For more information on eating well with dementia, see Alzheimer's New Zealand – Eating well.

Keep a healthy weight

Keeping a healthy weight can help you maintain your physical and mental health.

For more information, see How to overcome a poor appetite and How to gain weight.

Supplements and alternative medicines

There is no reliable evidence to support any specific supplements or alternative medicines to slow down dementia.

However, if you are having trouble eating enough to meet your needs, your doctor may suggest you take a nutrition supplement such as a vitamin or mineral supplement, or a drink supplement.

Talk with your doctor, pharmacist, or other health professional before taking supplements, alternative medicines, or over-the-counter medicines, as these can interact with your prescribed medications.

For more information, read Oral nutrition supplements.

Keep your mouth healthy

Keeping your teeth and mouth healthy will help you to continue to eat well.

For more information, see Looking after teeth & gums.

Meals on wheels

Meals on Wheels may be available for people who:

Your doctor or health professional can refer you for Meals on Wheels or you can refer yourself. The Canterbury DHB subsidises Meals on Wheels but there is a small cost, which is subject to change.

To find out more, see Meals on Wheels or phone (03) 335‑4443.

If you aren't eligible or prefer not to use Meals on Wheels, alternative home-delivered meal services (this link downloads a list) are available but the costs aren't subsidised.

Practical tips to help someone with dementia maintain good nutrition

If you're caring for a relative or friend with dementia, try the following tips.

For more practical tips, see the Alzheimers New Zealand page on eating well.

On the next page: Safe driving in early dementia

Written by Healthy Eating, Healthy Ageing project dietitians, Canterbury DHB. Endorsed by Psychiatrist, Older Persons Health and Rehabilitation, Canterbury DHB. Last reviewed August 2019.


See also:

Eating well for older adults

Page reference: 46310

Review key: HIMLD-33325