Ideas for Taking Someone Living with Dementia out for a Meal

If you have a friend or relative living with dementia, whether they are in a care facility or our one of our wonderful care homes, there will be times when you will want to take them out – perhaps on special occasions like their birthdays or anniversaries. This can cause issues - taking someone living with dementia to a busy restaurant may be disconcerting; after all, these places are often very busy, noisy, and full of people, causing distress.

Choosing a Restaurant

When choosing a restaurant, an establishment with booths is the ideal spot.  A booth separates your loved one from the potentially confusing atmosphere of a restaurant, meaning you can both focus solely on each other and get the absolute most out of your time together. Combined with the fact that low for you to sit opposite each other, so you can talk to them, hold their hand, and reassure them if needed.

Choosing an eatery with easy access is essential.  An elderly person may be perfectly mobile but if the hassle of navigating between tight tables can be avoided then why not.  It’s even better if you can eat outside, sunlight can help improve your mood and get a valuable dose of vitamin D. Vitamin D deficiency can result in symptoms similar to those of Alzheimer’s, yet another reason to take your dementia patient to dine al fresco.

The second step to avoid any confusion with the restaurant staff is to inform them that you’re eating with a dementia patient.  There is no need to go into too much detail, just politely ask that they ignore any odd or unexpected behavior.  A simple work-around for this could be to carry a card that you can hand to the serving staff. 

If possible choose an establishment with polite, understanding staff.  It can be hard to judge this right away, but if you find a place with staff like this it will be worth going back.  You may find your loved one is having a bad day on one of your visits, in which case the staff will be an invaluable resource for managing them.

When ordering, discuss the menu, read the dishes out to each other.  They’re probably used to the highest quality of food from the Barchester menu, but eating new foods out can be exciting.   Be patient and let your loved one take their time to decide what they want. Choosing from a large menu of totally new foods is a pleasure to some but can be overwhelming to others. While a dementia patient may have trouble understanding, or making up their mind, you have known them their whole lives so make sure to utilise this and advise them where necessary.  It’s very likely that you can guess what they would like meaning you are just being helpful by ordering food for them.

If you consider these few things you will find eating out is a very manageable experience and you will have a lot of fun, as well as doing the world of good.  You’ll be surprised by how many strangers are helpful and understanding. For more information of the healthcare offered by Barchester, do get in touch or have a look here, where you can find a wealth of information.  We can help your friend or relative manage their condition.