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Cooking and dementia


Registered User
Jan 8, 2011
Hi all,

I live with a 76 year old lady with Alzheimer's. She's always been fairly independent but recently came out of hospital for pneumonia, and whilst she has got back most of the marbles she left there, she is not as confident as she was. She never ate very well - mostly M&S ready meals - but cooked occasionally. Now, however, she won't cook for herself at all apart from heating things and boiling vegetables.

I gave her a recipe for a stew which basically involved cutting things up and putting them in a pan to simmer, and even put all the ingredients on the side, with a step by step recipe, and went through with her what to do (I was going out for the night so left her to it) but it was too much for her.

I didn't realise that following steps/a process is a problem for people with Alzheimer's - was chatting to a friend who's mum has it who told me, which made me realise so much (also about why using the TV/Freeview is so traumatic! ;) ).

Anyhow, I was wondering if anyone had any suggestions? I thought maybe an app on her iPad that she could follow along with - watching a video and then pausing it. Has anyone else tried that? Or a very simple book?! Any recommendations? Nutrition is so important to control the decline and also keep her healthy in other ways (she is pre-diabetic) that I'm loathe to leave her to a life of ready meals and no fresh food! Equally I don't always have time to prepare food for her, and actually I don't think she'd want me to either.

All suggestions gratefully received!

Thank you :)


Registered User
Dec 11, 2013
Hello phin :)

I agree with you that nutrition is important, and applaud your efforts to encourage your friend to cook :) However, I hate to have to say this, but..... if she has 'forgotten' skills, the Alzheimer's makes it highly unlikely that she will learn new ones, however simple. I learned this the hard way with my mum, when I tried to help her by buying a simpler remote for the TV, for example. She simply could not learn how to use it :(

I'd say your friend is doing very well to be heating meals and boiling vegetables. (Keep an eye on her safety doing this). Perhaps you could boost her nutrition by buying fruit, or by eating with her occasionally (that way you can cook a meal for both of you, not just for her). Also does she like eating out? I found that taking mum for a pub lunch sometimes offered variety and some stimulation around food.

If you are still worried, perhaps her GP could do some blood tests? It may well be that her nutrition is fine, but if there are deficiencies, maybe she could take supplements?

Sorry not to be more helpful, I hope others will be along soon with ideas :)

All the best

Lindy :)

Concerned J

Registered User
Jun 15, 2014
My Mum (77 with Vascular Dementia& Alz) always cooked good nutritious meals when we were growing up.
When Dad died in 2010 I think it became difficult for her to shop & cook for one. I understand that - I can't be bothered sometimes when I'm on my own.
She cannot / will not use a microwave and lately seems to struggling with the cooker.
For a while now she has been getting ready meals from the supermarket.
I recently ordered a brochure from a well known meal firm (think Two Ronnies) and she was very impressed with the range. As my Uncle has now moved in with her I'm hoping they'll make use of these meals.
I hope this helps.


Registered User
Dec 11, 2013
I can also recommend the meal firm mentioned. Can we say the name?!?

I think it's very important who does the shopping and how. Mum can't make a list of any sort so now we manage with me doing a monthly online order from a supermarket, plus these frozen food deliveries fortnightly. I bring in little 'treats' like fruit or cake when I can. She has carers in to prepare or heat meals as appropriate.

Does your friend still go out shopping? :)


Registered User
Mar 1, 2013
West Hertfordshire
Problem is, if you cant fathom chopping a carrot, you wont fathom following instructions on an I pad, or even in a book I doubt.

She may well have completely forgotten she had the task to do at all.

Keep on with the ready meals.

I left my mother a decent sized potato one day, along with grated cheese and the oven lit. All she'd got to do was put it in for an hour or so.

She did cook it for an hour....in the microwave!
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Registered User
Jul 18, 2011
My mum can no longer remember how to use her cooker, and I don't think she can even use the microwave these days.

Her diet has been very poor the last few years, and for the few months up until March consisted almost purely of sweet biscuits and other sweet stuff.

In March Social Services became involved and a care package put in place - SS recommended M&S ready meals for her which I buy for her weekly (and her carers heat up for her) and I get her deli ham and suchlike for the carers to make her sarnies.

ConcernedJ - I got a brochure for mum from that firm which she discarded as being "too expensive" - I now get her ready meals from M&S which is quite pricey so where's the logic?! She also said she'd tried them and didn't like them, which, politely put, is rubbish! The Social Worker agreed and said she didn't blame mum for not liking them (she'd never even tried them!).


Registered User
Jun 4, 2010
West Midlands
I used to order Wiltshire Farm Foods for my mum. I made all the decisions on what foods to buy, keeping her tastes in mind - her tastes in food all my life were very different to mine :D

They used to deliver and put the food straight into the freezer for her - main meals in one draw, puddings in another draw. She was able to choose her meal for the day and micro wave it. Once she lost that ability, the carers would zap the meal for her, which also made sure she had at least one meal a day, otherwise mum would only eat biscuits and cereal - ALL day, every day

You can mention companies you have used, so long as you have no financial interest... Ie own the company or have shares in the company - though by the time mum went into care.... I wish I had some shares in the company, as they were not the cheapest.... :D :D but were the most convenient for me

Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point


Registered User
Mar 1, 2013
West Hertfordshire
Iceland are perfectly adequate for the smaller appetite...and they do home delivery too.

At approx £1 a throw it didn't worry me if , once heated, she fancied something lse, or didn't eat it.

In the winter she'd have 2 somedays.... Roast for lunch and mac cheese for tea.


Registered User
May 18, 2014
Have you thought about preparing individual salads? I still do this for my mum who now lives with me. Florida, potato, beetroot, carrot and orange. All creamy and delicious. I put them in small, clear plastic containers with label on side. Mum doesn't know I make these she thinks they come from local shop. Only small portions and she helps herself at any time, this way I know shes getting fresh with all the nutrients and I have no problem buying pre prepared meals.


Registered User
Aug 29, 2007
SW London
Have you thought about preparing individual salads? I still do this for my mum who now lives with me. Florida, potato, beetroot, carrot and orange. All creamy and delicious. I put them in small, clear plastic containers with label on side. Mum doesn't know I make these she thinks they come from local shop. Only small portions and she helps herself at any time, this way I know shes getting fresh with all the nutrients and I have no problem buying pre prepared meals.


Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
Radcliffe on Trent
I tried both WFF and Oakhouse foods for mum. Both have 'small portion' options. I didn't care if mum didn't eat it all, but she came from the 'must clean your plate, must not waste food' brigade so the smaller dishes helped.

Mum struggled to heat them for the correct time in the microwave so only option was to get carers to do it. Otherwise I thought they were a good a reasonably priced option and reflected her preferences for traditional British foods. She didn't like Italian, Chinese, or Indian so a lot of supermarket ranges were not suitable.

Lilac Blossom

Registered User
Oct 6, 2014
Hello Phin

Good ideas on this thread. I have a neighbour who is unable to cook nowadays. She tried Wiltshire Farms meals but said they were ok but not great. We have a lovely butcher locally who produces ready meals - Scottish beef/pork/chicken, etc. with appropriate vegs which are really good quality - similar price as WF but much better. She also recommends McIntosh's mince & tatties and also stovies - they are only £1.50 each out of Tesco. She has careworker who heats her mid-day meal for her and also makes sandwich for teatime.
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Registered User
Mar 4, 2013
Auckland...... New Zealand
From a Mum(Alz) who did all the cooking and baking, to a Mum who can now just make a toasted sandwich and scramble an egg ( with difficulty) its become sad to see.
Even pancake mixture in a bottle where you just add water and shake, is too difficult for Mum. The use of the microwave has become less, and thats even after buying a very simple, with less buttons to press one.
One time I went over to find that some soup, which was to be heat for 2 mins, she had put on for 20mns. I can well imagine she would have scalded herself taking it out if the microwave if I hadn't gone over :eek: Dad(cognitive impairment) has never ever learnt how to use the microwave and is old school, only frying, boiling or grilling.

Dad does all the cooking now which he doesn't mind, but he's not the worlds best cook, although he like to think he is :)
His food handling and hygiene is not the best, one time keeping fish in the fridge for 5 days before cooking and wondering why he had an upset stomach later that night :rolleyes: lucky for him he seems to have a cast iron stomach and thankfully Mum didn't eat it. The pair of them live on a diet of oven chips.
Whenever Mum doesn't fancy eating what Dad cooks, I make her somethng and heat it in my microwave and take it over.