List of finger food ideas for people living with dementia

Among the many challenges of caring for someone living with Alzheimer’s is ensuring they’re eating properly. This type of dementia and others can lead to weight loss, so it’s important to have a number of strategies to keep calories up and the right nutrients in their diet.

Environmental factors like distractions and lighting can have an impact, so can the way that food is presented. An effective approach is to offer your loved one finger foods they can easily pick up without cutlery and feed themselves.

This is a great way to ensure they maintain their dignity and a certain amount of independence. It can cut down on stress at mealtimes and help you to feel reassured they’re getting the sustenance they need.

Finger food inspiration for people with dementia

When we think about finger food, we often don’t get much further than sandwiches and wraps or cakes and biscuits, but there’s lots more to choose from. Among the advice given to dementia carers is to try a variety of things, as those with the disease may have different tastes than before.

Here are some finger food ideas:

Cereal or granola bars

Starting the day with cereal is a well-established practice, but for many people with dementia, holding cutlery can be difficult and milk can get messy. Soft and chewy cereal or granola bars they can pick up with their own hands can be a good alternative. High in calories and dense in nutrients, they will help prevent weight loss.

Tubes of yoghurt

A great source of protein, calcium and vitamin D, yoghurt is healthy and provides many benefits to elderly people’s diets. It’s also really good for people who don’t think they have much of an appetite. Snip the top off a tube of yoghurt and allow them to squeeze it themselves instead of trying to grapple with tubs.

Dips and accompaniments

Having something chunky to hold onto while they dip the other end into a sauce is a useful technique for many people with dementia. This principle can work for both sweet and savoury foods, upping the nutritional content at the same time. Popular combinations include:

  • Apple slices with peanut butter
  • Carrot sticks and hummus
  • Breadsticks with salsa
  • Crackers with cheese sauce
  • Waffles with maple syrup

Party food

Food designed to be eaten with one hand while balancing a drink in the other is a good option. This could be mini sausages, cubes of cheese or small quiches. Present a variety of options on a plate and see which appeal to your loved one. Maintaining a certain level of choice is another good way to engage those with dementia in food.

Pizza, chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries

Dementia care doesn’t have to mean doing everything completely differently and many commonly eaten meals are suitable finger foods. Pizza, chicken nuggets and sweet potato fries are readily available and provide key nutrients for older people. Even if your relative or friend would previously have enjoyed these items with cutlery, make it clear using their fingers is acceptable.

Fruit and vegetables

Many fruits and vegetables can be easily picked up and eaten as they are, like berries or cherry tomatoes. Others will benefit from being peeled and sliced into more manageable pieces. Vegetables served as finger foods are usually raw, but there’s no reason why steamed broccoli or cauliflower florets can’t be eaten with the hands too.

Meatballs and patties

If you’re trying to think of ways to serve up proteins like chicken, beef, tuna or shrimp, then meatballs and patties could be the answer. With just a few additional ingredients, you can turn these nutritious foods into items that are easy to pick up. Once again, you can add some dips too to up the calories and flavour content.

Ice cream sandwiches and choc ices

Ice cream is ever popular, but serving it as a sandwich or in a bar form, such as a choc ice, will help your loved one to eat it successfully themselves. Ice lollies can be a great alternative on a hot day and an effective way to make sure they’re taking on extra liquids to prevent dehydration.


Bitesize chocolates left within easy reach are a good way to tempt a person living with dementia into eating. They can pick at them throughout the day and between meals to ensure they’re taking on enough calories. Make sure your friend or relative can see them so they can help themselves whenever they want.


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