A man and woman hold a menu together as bubbles float around them showing medication, adaptive dinnerware, a clock, and a phone showing a plate of food on the screen.

Tips for Eating Out at Restaurants

My mom and dad used to like to go out to eat every Friday for a fish fry - it was their thing. A source of social entertainment for them. However, this once favorite activity of theirs got more complicated as their Alzheimer's disease progressed.

I was determined to allow them to enjoy eating out as long as they could. I learned various life lessons along the way. At times I was discouraged. However, it was important for me to carry out this activity for them, even if it was once a month. Here are some tips for eating out with individuals Alzheimer's disease that I learned from my experience.

Pack a bag of anticipated items for the restaurant

Hand wipes or hand sanitizer, as well as any medications that will be needed or are supposed to be taken with food. A change of clothing, including undergarments, along with any incontinence items your loved one may be utilizing at the time.

Adaptive eating dinnerware such as scoop bowls, divided plated, sippy cups, curved utensils will help aid in a more enjoyable meal for both your loved one and you.

Activities for distraction like adult coloring book, sensory fidget toys, and photo album (travel sized memory book).

Know the restaurant

Going to a place that is familiar helped reduce any anxiety or stress my parents may have felt. Choosing a place with helpful, compassionate with understanding staff is helpful.

Knowing peak busy times can help you plan; I found planning visits during the slow times was better for me and my parents when we would go out to eat.

Research if the restaurant has loud music or live music playing. Maybe this music will be too stimulating.

Consider service time and wait times - do you usually receive the food quickly or is there a bit of a wait after you order? Make a reservation if needed to eliminate wait time as needed.

Choose time of dinning appropriately

Be aware of what time of the day is the best for the individual you are dinning with. With my parents having a late lunch or early dinner worked best for them. They seemed more alert and appeared less agitated during that time period of the day.

When at restaurant

Some things that I requested and considered with my parents included:

  • I would ask to be seated near the restroom.
  • If not using any equipment I found it helpful to ask the waitress to bring the drinks half full. It helped a lot with lessening spills and accidents.
  • Narrow choices from the menu to 1 or 2. I knew what my parents go to foods were so it made it helpful for me, when providing a choice.
  • You can also you your cell phone to provide a picture of the food or drink choices. This helped with my mom in her later stages of Alzheimer's disease.
  • Use fidget toys, adult coloring books, etc. to hold your loved one's attention, while waiting for your order.

Bring disease awareness cards to hand to wait staff that are unfamiliar to you. These are business size cards that briefly explain Alzheimer's disease. Educates the unfamiliar person for what they might see or hear from the person you are dining with.

Your next mealtime outing

I hope these tips help you to make your next mealtime outing, a successful one.

Sometimes a little preparation ahead of time can allow your loved ones to continue to do activities that they enjoy to do. I am curious if any of our community members, have any additional tips that they use when eating out with their loved one. Please share in the comments below!

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