The forgotten meal

What are the effects of enjoying food and drink on the wellbeing of elderly people with dementia? This research question is at the heart of the project: the forgotten meal.

The impact of food on the physical state of elderly people with dementia has been researched before, but the effects on wellbeing have not. Enjoying food and drink contributes significantly to wellbeing, but is also difficult due to physical and mental issues. That is why this team is researching new food concepts and innovative interventions. They also want to ensure that eating and drinking are given a prominent position in the daily care for elderly people with dementia.

Changing the eating environment

When looking for solutions, the main focus of the multidisciplinary team is on the person. They examine whether the eating environment can be adapted to the individual needs of an elderly person, which will increase their appetite. One example is a virtual dinner with friends and family.

The research also focuses on solutions for factors that make eating and drinking difficult. 

  • decreased motor skills;
  • decreased appetite;
  • decreased recognition of food, drink, and meal times;
  • and chewing, swallowing, and dental problems.

Innovative product offering

The project team will provide solutions by defining an innovative product offering that is suited to the preferences and physical capabilities in the different phases of dementia. An example is to make familiar products with an easier texture using 3D Food Printing.

Objectives of the forgotten meal

The team has defined five objectives:

  • Policy regarding the role of food in care, and changes in the organisation that mean care staff will have more time and attention for providing food and drink;
  • An innovative product offering that suits the preferences and physical capabilities in the different phases of dementia;
  • Innovative personal eating environments through the implementation of new technology;
  • New methods for measuring the food experience and the quality of life for elderly people with dementia. Because a standard survey is not suitable for this target group, "contentment" may be inferred from their behaviour, observations made by care professionals, and the satisfaction of caregivers;
  • New insights into the best possible implementation of innovative food concepts and interventions in care practice.

This research was made possible in part by Agri & Food top sector funding.