Dining Out Made Easy for People with Alzheimer's Disease

Plans Minimize Difficulties for Caregivers

Going out for a meal can present a number of challenges for people with moderate to severe Alzheimer's disease. I have put together some of my tips and strategies for dining out successfully. There are easy ways to minimize potential problems and make it an outing you and friends will enjoy.

  • If you are planning to visit an unfamiliar restaurant try to make sure the layout of the restaurant is appropriate to your needs. Things to consider: If there too many stairs, if it is wheelchair friendly, if tables are accessible and available, and if there are appropriate washroom facilities.
  • Try to choose a restaurant you know will serve food that the person enjoys.
  • Ask for a table near the washroom, and, if possible, in a quiet area. Seating the person with his or her back to any hustle and bustle also may help to minimize distractions.
  • Going out for meals earlier in the day may be best as memory and behavior can deteriorate with tiredness. If you do go out later in the evening, try to encourage a nap beforehand to help minimize fatigue.
  • Help the person choose his or her meal, if necessary. Suggest appropriate food and read out the description if it helps with their choice.
  • Tell the waiter/waitress of any special requests or special requirements for eating, such as extra spoons or bowls. Consider whether it is better to take any special equipment, but first make sure this is OK with the restaurant.
  • Ask the waiter/waitress to fill glasses half-full or to leave drinks for you to serve.
  • It can be a good idea to order some finger food or snacks to keep the attention of the person with Alzheimer's.
  • Accompany the person to the washroom. You can stand outside if you feel that is appropriate or safer. You may have to double-check that the restaurant has a washroom for the disabled so that you can go in with them and assist.

    Happy dining.

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