Eat finger food to increase food intake!

Finger food seems to be a useful concept to increase food intake in patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

Finger foods are helpful for patients with Alzheimer’s disease because they enable them to eat alone with their fingers rather than with cutlery, once this has become too difficult to use. By applying this solution, patients with Alzheimer’s disease can gain in autonomy and rediscover the pleasure of eating on their own. However, the provision of attractive finger foods is essential to ensuring that these patients will be willing to choose and consume them.

In this context, the aim of our study was to investigate the attractiveness factors of finger foods to Alzheimer’s disease patients. Three parameters for the formulation of finger foods (the addition of a sauce, changes to shape and contrast) were thus studied as a result of interviews with 19 professionals in nursing homes. They were then tested separately using paired comparison tests in real-life mealtime situations. 114 Alzheimer’s patients living in nursing homes participated in this study. The results showed that the finger foods with a sauce (vs. no sauce) and with two
layers (vs. one layer where all ingredients were mixed) were more frequently chosen first and then consumed.
By contrast, the shape (moulded vs. squared) of the finger foods had no significant impact on first
choice and food consumption. These findings support the view that Alzheimer’s patients are able to make food choices when offered alternatives; choosing first and consuming more of the alternatives most attractive to them. Future research efforts will focus on a more detailed investigation of food attractiveness related to the food perceptions of AD patients.

Source: Attractiveness and consumption of finger foods in elderly Alzheimer’s disease patients. Pouyet V. et al. Food Quality and Preference 34 (2014) 62–69.

Some examples of finger foods

If the patient has no swallowing or chewing disorders, vegetable sticks, mini-pies or mini-cakes can be a solution.

Bet on sauces!

Add some spoons of cornstarch to a classic sauce (beef bourguignon sauce) makes the finger food consumption easier. It is also recommended to encourage color combination and not to mix everything. To increase the contrast, choose a plate of a different color than the food.