The brain changes eating habits by making it hard to evaluate options, select among them, and control the fine motor skills needed to manipulate a serving spoon from dish to plate.

Here are some tips on helping one’s struggle during mealtime.

  • Serve plates of food to everyone at the table, rather than setting out food so that people can help themselves family-style.

  • Plate the food for the person with dementia so that it’s already at their place when seated.

  • Serve the person a plate with food already cut into bite-sized pieces.

  • Don’t put too much food on the plate; it can seem overwhelming.

  • Monitor the plate through the meal, so you can offer seconds (or different types of food) as needed; the person may not be able to ask.

  • Monitor that the person is indeed eating; you may need to remind him or her throughout the meal.

  • Serve finger foods such as sandwiches if manipulating silverware (getting fork to mouth, say) is becoming difficult.

  • Let the person eat what he or she wants to first—if he or she shows a preference—even if it’s dessert.