Non-Pharmacological Mealtime Interventions for Sufferers of Dementia

Of the symptoms associated with dementia, one of the most common is agitation. It is common for sufferers of dementia to be increasingly agitated at meal times. According to an article in the Journal of American Medical Directors Association, “Effectiveness of Mealtime Interventions on Behavior Symptoms of People with Dementia Living in Care Homes: A Systematic Review,” multiple skilled nursing facilities participated in a study. Four different methods were used to reduce agitation at meals. The goal of this study was to improve behavioral symptoms in elderly people who suffer from dementia in these facilities. These four interventions included playing music during mealtimes, changing the lighting and increasing visual stimulation, providing more options, and promoting conversation. All of these interventions made great alternatives to medicinal interventions, as many studies demonstrate that tranquilizing dementia patients medicinally when they are agitated worsens their condition.

A resident who suffers from dementia could come to cause a scene during a meal which in turn could lead to a loss of appetite and ultimately lead to weight loss and malnutrition. Increased stress and anxiety during meals reduces the sufferer’s ability to meet their nutritional needs, and interrupts other residents from enjoying their meals. This is something that could stress the staff as well. Weight loss and malnutrition are known to be common issues for those who suffer from dementia. Simple and effective non-pharmacological interventions which attempt to improve the mealtime environment could lessen outbursts, increase eating times, and lead to better nutrition, benefitting both the residents and the staff.


The study demonstrated that all of these interventions were effective. However, the most effective intervention involved was playing music during meal times. These interventions are simple and inexpensive ways that can help alleviate agitated behaviors without the use of pharmacological interventions.

Our knowledgeable team of attorneys at the Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi believes that your loved ones should receive the highest level of care at a nursing home or residential care facility. Residents should not feel uncomfortable or agitated. If your feel that your loved one is not receiving the proper care they deserve contact us today at (888) 606-3453 for a free consultation. We serve cities all across Northern and Southern California.