5 Tips for Dining Out When a Family Member has Dementia

August 20, 2018

5 Tips for Dining Out When a Senior Has Dementia

When a loved one has Alzheimer’s or another form of dementia, you might be concerned about taking them out to eat. These tips can help you plan and prepare.

Most people enjoy a night out at a local restaurant with friends and family. Caregivers are no different. Leaving the cooking and cleaning up to someone else can be a relief for a weary caregiver.

If you are the caregiver for a loved one with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia, however, you might wonder how realistic it is to try to take them to a restaurant. While it does require a little extra planning, you shouldn’t give up before you give it a try.

Here are a few tips that may help you include a senior loved one who has dementia in your dining plans.

5 Tips for Dining Out When a Senior Has Dementia

  1. Select the restaurant with care

The first step is to choose the restaurant wisely. Restaurants that are excessively loud or always have a long wait probably aren’t good options. They can increase anxiety and agitation for an adult with Alzheimer’s. The experts at the University of Waterloo’s Murray Alzheimer Research and Education Program recommend families choose a smaller, quiet restaurant with few distractions.

Others have found that family-style restaurants are best. The relaxed atmosphere is sometimes more welcoming to seniors with memory impairment who may struggle with coordination.  This can make them a little messy at meal time.

  1. Review the menu ahead of your visit

Finding a small, relaxed restaurant is the first step. Next, you’ll want to review the menu ahead of time. Just as a crowded restaurant can be confusing and overwhelming, a complicated menu can be intimidating to a senior with dementia.

Most restaurants post their menu on their website. Take time before you head to the restaurant to review the menu items with your loved one. Select their first choice meal and a back-up one just in case. Do the same for other members of your party. Then your group can skip the menu completely when you get there.

  1. Ask about reservations

Anything you can do to speed up the process of getting seated will likely help the meal go more smoothly. If you’ve opted for a family-style restaurant that doesn’t usually accept reservations, call the manager. Explain your situation and see what suggestions they can offer.

They may be able to make special accommodations, such as holding a table in a quiet corner for you.

  1. Stick with old, familiar places

Short-term memory is typically impacted first when a senior has dementia. This means that while they might not remember a restaurant that became a favorite later in life, they may remember an old favorite. Going there again might be comforting.

Also, once you find a few places your loved one seems to feel comfortable going to, try to stick with those. It eliminates some of the stress and worry about going to a new place.

  1. Plan around the senior’s best and worst times

You’ve probably noticed a pattern with regard to when your loved one is at their best and worst. Try to dine out during the times of day they are typically at their best. It might mean you eat dinner at 3:30 on a Saturday afternoon instead of 7:00 in the evening, but at least it will help make the experience a pleasant one.

The Harbor Memory Care at Legacy Senior Living

In our Harbor Memory Care community, we pay attention to every detail of our residents’ dining experience. From creating a peaceful, distraction-free environment to offering well-balanced, home-cooked meals, our specialty dementia dining program is thoughtfully designed.

We invite you to schedule a time for a private visit to learn more. Call the Legacy Senior Living community nearest to you today!