“Food does a lot of different things for a lot of people,” a voice says at the beginning of a new video, produced by the Alzheimer’s Resource Center (ARC), titled “Dining With Friends.” The narrator is making the point that food and dining are an important part of life and should not be abandoned just because someone has been afflicted with Alzheimer’s disease or other form of dementia. 

ARC, based in Plantsville, Conn., is giving the 20-minute video away to anyone interested in learning how to help residents with Alzheimer’s dine with dignity. ARC created the program to educate caregivers and others about the importance of making the dining experience a positive one for people with cognitive disabilities.

The video, which was released in January, explains the program in detail and walks the audience through some of the techniques that caregivers can utilize to help their patients have an enjoyable, relaxing, dignified meal.

Kelly Smith Papa, director of education, research, and dementia care, consulting for ARC, describes Dining With Friends as an approach “to ensure that mealtime is as meaningful as possible for folks with Alzheimer’s disease.”

Among other things, the program stresses the importance of maximizing independence for the resident, recognizing that people with Alzheimer’s may lose awareness of how to use utensils and how to swallow safely, and creating an environment that is conducive to relaxation and socialization.

ARC Executive Director Michael Smith stresses that Dining With Friends is “not just about eating the meal, it’s how do we incorporate people in the preparation of the meal? How do we make this person as independent and engaged as possible?”

One component of the program, Caring Hands Cuisine, offers good-tasting and attractive recipes that are safe for individuals with choking hazards and dysphagia. “It’s a way of making food’s texture and consistency look appetizing,” says Papa, “because you eat with your eyes first.”

View the video, and get more information about the program at: www.alzheimersresourcecenter.org

Source: Alzheimer’s Resource Center, Plantsville, Conn.