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Tips for dining out with a person living with dementia

     Caring for somebody who is living with dementia can mean some planning and adjustments to things we often take for granted. One of those things is eating out, sometimes it can be difficult so Alzheimer’s Society in Southport, have some hints and tips from service users and carers from across Sefton to help you on your next outing.

  • I find people are very kind and helpful when I am out with mum. Mum struggles to pick up a cup without spilling her favourite cappuccino or hot chocolate – I have started getting her a straw which helps enormously, she enjoys it!
  • Child or smaller portions are about the right size and usually easier to eat.
  • I often take mum to the garden centre for lunch – soup and a roll, cappuccino and a cake!  We go early to avoid the queues.  I sit mum at a table then go and get the food.
  • We try to book a restaurant when its open, then we can choose a secluded place to sit to avoid too much noise and distractions. We can order quickly so there is not too much time to wait. We often decide what we are going to eat beforehand so there is even less delay. We tend to have a main meal and dessert, and then home for coffee.
  • I take Mum for a coffee and cake rather than a big meal as she gets agitated after a few minutes and it’s easier to drink up and go if we need to. 
  • With family meals, we tend to get takeaway fish and chips at home so that if dad doesn’t feel up to participating, it’s no big deal.
  • Visit places at quieter times of the day and avoid weekends.
  • Choose places with good lighting, not too loud background noise and, if possible an establishment where staff are Dementia Friends. 
  • Using the same establishment to provide familiarity and also the staff/management can identify your needs. (Lots of napkins, quiet table, close to toilets). Dependant on ability pre-order a selection of finger foods to be placed on the table, avoids any issues with cutlery, everybody can eat the same food. As a past restaurant manager, I would be happy to provide a regular order for my guests. 
  • Having the appropriate drinking vessel for the person with dementia, (if they require a beaker bring one). As a dementia champion i have not encountered many restaurants that have dementia friends training for all staff so please ask for what you need.
  • When my step mum went into a Care Home and found going out difficult, we used to take a picnic into the Home, and eat it in the garden. Her favourite smoked salmon and cream cheese sandwiches and cakes. We would talk about places we had been out for picnics in the past and it brought back happy memories. We had some lovely afternoons without the stress all round if she had difficulties when we were out in a restaurant or cafe.
  • My wife has an eating disorder and can’t manage a regular meal.   As a result I order a main and an extra plate. Initially it was worried it might be a bit embarrassing but nobody batted an eyelid.

     These helpful tips are from people caring for others living with dementia and how they have been able to find workarounds whilst out and about. Most cafes and restaurants are more than happy to help, so always ask if there is something you need or if you have any specific requirements. Living with dementia means just that – living.

     Cllr Cummins Cabinet member for Adult social care said ‘We hope to encourage more businesses in Sefton to become ‘Dementia Friendly’ for carers and people living with dementia alike. These tips for eating out are brilliant because they come directly from those dealing with dementia. We hope to make everyday outings as enjoyable as we can for everybody in Sefton’

     Linda Lawson, Information Worker for the Society said ‘Eating out when you have dementia can be a challenging experience for both the person with this condition and those who care for them. The best suggestions to make this experience more relaxing and pleasurable come directly from those living with dementia as we know they really do work. We want to encourage more cafes and restaurants to become ‘dementia friendly’, small changes such as clear signage, good lighting and staff receiving free Dementia Friends training can make a huge difference to a person living with dementia.’

     If you would like any further information about Alzheimer’s Society and dementia support in Sefton please contact 01704 539 967 or E-mail southport@alzheimers.org.uk or you can visit their website for more information Website www.alzheimers.org.uk or visit the Sefton Dementia Action alliance website to see what’s going on around Sefton http://www.dementiaaction.org.uk/local_alliances/3794_sefton_daa

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