Healthy tips for feeding someone with Dementia?

I worry about the amount of saturated fat Mum is eating, she loves cheese, at 72 should I just let Mum enjoy the food she loves or be more wary??

Mum has a cheese sandwich every evening, cheese pancakes, cheese and onion pasties…I try to supplement it with veg etc. Mum wasn’t impressed with the Brussel Sprouts on Tuesday, but ate them all…

She’s taken to eating a bag of Minstrels a day.

As Mum is immobile I do worry about her health. Should I stop the treats, cut down on the cheese ???

Hi Stephen,
how about a lower fat cheese e.g. Cathedral City Lighter Cheddar, it’s 30% less fat (much nicer that the low fat cheese,) and healthier than full fat cheese.

I suppose re diet at 72, it depends on your Mum’s general health.


As dementia is a continuing downhill slope I would be inclined to let her enjoy
her life as much as possible whilst she can.
But try a big range of veg. You may find one that she likes.
What about a big range of fruit too?
Various fruit and nut bars too.

Hi Stephen, I’ve attached a Carers UK and Nutricia information booklet called 'Eating well and dementia." I hope it’s useful.
carers-uk-dementia-booklet.pdf (3.11 MB)

My dad had always had cereal every morning, coffee with half milk. He had prostate cancer.

The last months of his life were ruined when he was told not to drink any more cow’s milk. No more cereal, no more milky coffee. Paranoid about anything with milk in it. I once bought some biscuits with milk powder in them (didn’t expect milk in biscuits). He then said “Are you trying to kill me?”.

He was in the last months of his life anyhow, nothing he ate or drank was going to make a scrap of difference. It would have been much better for him to enjoy the last few months of life eating and drinking what he liked, and dying a day or two earler.

My husband had vascular dementia along with other health issues. He developed a sweet tooth. My family always took something ’ nice’ which helped us too. When he had times of not wanting to eat, I wished he would at least eat a cake! Always told the staff what he had eaten. If you can encourage fruit, even if with ice cream, ( I did that too) its something

I’d let her eat cheese! My Mum also has dementia and has a serious chocolate/cake habit, she has so little of joy left to her that I won’t deny her. Mum also likes a ploughman’s and I’ll stick coleslaw or veg on that which she will each my sister also regularly cooks her a roast and fill the late with veg and gravy, which seems to go down well. But generally I don’t worry too much!

My mum’s main food was Mr. Kipling cakes. She couldn’t manage a main meal for medical reasons.

I think its more paranoia on my behalf, ever since the traffic lights on most food: Energy, Fat, Saturated Fat, Sugar and Salt indicators have been introduced I find myself adding up everything… A former accountant, I just can’t help it…

Pet66, The hardest days of my life was when Mum stopped eating, as we’ve both been through its lovely to have your support.

I guess I should just let Mum enjoy herself while she can.

Today Mum had her two pieces of toast, I cleaned the dishes and on my way to the loo, handed Mum her bag of Minstrels. Five minutes later I came in to find an empty bag, when I asked Mum what had happened she burst out laughing saying she was sorry. Only a dementia carer would understand this behaviour, I told her only one a day and Mums response was “no more”!

My Mother in law had dementia and absolutely loved jelly babies! She would guzzle a whole bag in a few minutes if we had let her and then she would be sick.

She really loved them so we would try to bribe her with them, ie eat this piece of apple and you can have 3 jelly babies. Worked quite well for a while.

But to be honest we just let her eat what she enjoyed because she had so little enjoyment left. It did my husband good too, to see her smiling and laughing as she chose which colours to eat.

Hi Stephen,
If cheese is the key to keep Mum eating for as long as she is able then if it was my mum, (who also stopped eating which broke my heart as she had always had a good appetite), then I would use it as much as possible. A little grated cheese or cheese sauce on top of veg. Cheesy mashed potatoes, cheese on toast, grated cheese or soft cheese fork-mashed with hard-boiled egg and a little low fat mayo in a sandwich, sprinkle grated cheese on top of soup. Grated cheese always looks more than there actually is is and there are low(er) fat versions of ‘cream’ cheese or cheese triangles too.
You can get chocolate flavoured things like custards too and ‘food’ drinks. Would she drink flavoured milk?
Don’t make eating a battle, just go with the flow and sneak the ‘good’ stuff onto her plate in disguise. Don’t serve too much at once or comment if she leaves some. Allow her to enjoy her food without feeling guilty for upsetting you. Little and often might work better than 3 meals a day.
Keep the ‘counting’ for your own meals if that’s what allows you to enjoy them.
As for the minstrels, instead of giving her a whole packet, serve less in a small dish then she can have the lot if she likes.
Hope that helps. I know what it’s like, worrying about what Mum is or is not eating. Eating at all is a big plus.

Thank you all for the replies, I’m starting to realise it was a selfish post on my behalf and I should just enjoy watching Mum eat…

Like many Dementia carers, I went through a period of begging Mum to eat and drink in late 2017, constant Dr visits and talks of a PEG feed. Two cup a soups a day was a success story.

Lets just say Mum will be getting her usual Sunday 8" pizza tomorrow…

Not selfish at all Stephen,
You are doing your utmost to keep Mum as healthy as possible and worried about food. You may temporarily have lost sight of 'happy eating in your pursuit of ‘healthy eating’ but I’m sure you can find a compromise between the two.

Stephen, give yourself a break!! Caring is one of those jobs you get with no training!

The whole point of the forum is sharing hints and tips about what works, what doesn’t, etc. etc.
Looking back on my 40 years as a carer for a total of 10 carees, I just wish there had been someone to ask about so many things. Now GP’s are so overworked it’s impossible to get an appointment in many areas, and Social Services in my area have cut the number of social workers drastically, most people don’t have one any more.
If you look at the statistics about the number of people who view a post, but may not reply, you will see that one post will help many, many others as well as the original poster.

Hi there,

I’m not a carer myself, but am very interested in the topic of caring for the elderly and am looking at developing a range of products aimed at making it easier to ensure the elderly have access to nutritionally balanced, portion controlled food that is safe, affordable and convenient.