Promoting nutrition for people living with dementia

People living with dementia often experience changes to their eating patterns and preferences which can cause challenges for meeting nutritional needs. These changes can be due to a loss of appetite, forgetting to eat or drink, experiencing dry mouth, or craving foods high in sugar and salt. [1] 

When exploring ways to ensure adequate nutritional intake for people living with dementia, you may wish to consider the following: 

  • Increasing engagement – Increasing nutritional intake for people living with dementia can be achieved by promoting engagement in meal or drink preparation, laying dining settings, creating multiple spaces for eating which replicate real-world dining (café, restaurant, outdoor and traditional dining tables), or cultivating a small garden to create produce for use in meals.
  • Snacks – As people living with dementia may experience changes to appetite, frequent nutritious snacks are an effective way to increase nutrient intake and to help maintain weight.
  • Serving strategies – Mealtime routines and serving strategies can have a positive impact on a person living with dementia’s appetite. These strategies are based around making food more accessible or familiar by incorporating more finger foods, placing food within easy reach, serving smaller meal sizes more often, serving meals the person would commonly have eaten in the past, and using plain coloured crockery and table settings. [1]
  • Foods to promote brain health – There are multiple dietary factors which have been associated with promoting brain health. These foods are also in line with nutritional standards. They include low saturated and trans-unsaturated fats found in olives and nuts, high omega-3 fats found in fish and eggs, high antioxidants and vitamins often found in fruits, vegetables, fermented foods and meat products. Low consumption of alcohol is also recommended, with offering low alcohol percentage or alcohol alternatives as a suggested strategy for people living with dementia who may be familiar with a higher alcohol intake. [2]

If you are considering strategies to promote nutrition for people living with dementia, the following resources may be useful:

Quality Standards

The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission are currently consulting on draft guidance resources to help providers, aged care workers and other stakeholders to understand the new strengthened Quality Standards and their roles and responsibilities in meeting them. Along with the new Aged Care Act, the strengthened Quality Standards are expected to be introduced from 1 July 2024.

For more information:

Draft Provider Guidance Standard 6 – Food and Nutrition

Want to know more?

If you require more information on implementing an approach to delivering tasty, safe and nutritious meals in aged care: 

  1. Browse the nutrition resources.
  2. Look for research evidence within the PubMed database by using one of the PubMed searches provided here. PubMed contains brief information (‘citations’) on millions of research studies. It can therefore be challenging to search. Our librarian has made finding highly relevant information on this topic as simple as a click of a button. Click on All to see everything in the database on the topic or choose Full text to view only articles immediately available to you free of charge in full text.

Connect to PubMed evidence

If you wish to find out more about nutrition in aged care, try using one of the PubMed searches below. These links (all or full text) take you to the relevant research literature in the large international PubMed database.

  1. Nutrition and dementia [Internet].  Adelaide, AU: Dementia Australia; 2024 [cited 2024 April 08]. Available from:
  2. Nutrition [Internet]. Adelaide, AU: Dementia Australia; 2024 [cited 2024 April 08]. Available from:
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