Just finished contributing on Dementia Mentors’ teaching video for staff of restaurants seeking “Purple Table Reservations” training, so thought i would post my notes here also. More info on what those terms mean is available at Links at end of this blog entry. These first notes are in order of priority, also listing the related symptom (Sx).
Sx= problems with sensory information-processing & audio discrimination: Need quieter area. For many of us there is no such thing as background noise (not only music and voices, but clatter of dishes or machinery). For most of my friends and i, this is the most frequent reason we would rather stay home than go to a restaurant. Sometimes we can bring ear-plugs, but that also impairs our ability to communicate with others at the table.
Sx= problems with information-processing: Takes longer for us to process what is said, so … Wait-staff please talk slower and use extra patience (especially with our decision-making).
Sx= fine-motor skills & tremors: Extra napkins at the table, because i am messy.
Sx= fine-motor skills & tremors: Plate with lip on outer edge helps corral food so that it doesn’t end up all over tablecloth. (Even in early stage, i already mostly use shallow bowls. My bowls are not plastic children’s bowls, but quality Mikasa dishware; these are heavy enough to stay down on table, even if my silverware knocks on edge of plate.)
Sx= large-motors skills: Table placement: Like some of my friends, i need either a Service-Dog for balance-assist, a walker, or a wheelchair. Many times the restaurant tables are so close together that it is difficult to get to my table with a larger walker like mine. If i am feeling stable enough to use Service Dog for balance instead, there is often a problem with the table legs. Many tables these days have a heavily ridged four-pronged base under the table (instead of legs at edges of table). These huge table-bases leave no room for my Service-dog to lay under the table, so he must lay very near the walkway, creating possibilities of wait-staff or other customers tripping on him. This problem is not mentioned in the link, but many restaurants need basic education on Service Dog issues so please see ADA Business Brief for Service Animals in Links below.
Separate menu if requested (perhaps mostly selection that would be on “Senior Menu”)
- Avoid Choice Over-abundance (Sx= problems with decision-making): An example would be for those who order coffee or decaf, supply cream and sweeteners on table instead of asking. Perhaps simplify side-dishes to diabetes-friendly (lower-carb choice like maybe berries or veg-sticks), standard (often bread, potato, rice, or corn-based) or other special health need.
- Bite-Sized (Sx= problems with fine-motor stability & tremors): Some restaurants have a cubed steak that is already cut up and served with gravy, so no embarrassment of someone cutting your food as if you are a child … and if it is a day that i can successfully stab a pre-cut piece of meat, that can successfully avoid food all over my clothes and the floor.
- Finger-Food (Sx= problems with fine-motor stability & tremors): For those of us with bad tremors, provide plenty of finger-food choices other than sandwiches that fall apart. If hamburgers have too many layers then foods end up all over everything almost as bad as trying to use silverware, but grilled cheese will stay together when you pick it up, as will quiche or quesadilla. You can even add a few chunks of chicken breast without it falling apart. For breakfast, other finger foods you might offer could be breakfast bar made with muesli, turkey bacon, chicken sausage, or even french toast sticks with thick syrup dip (for those who can manage blood sugar spike). Pizza slice, cheese sticks, vegetable sticks for dipping, chicken tenders with gravy dip, meatballs, mozzarella sticks, fish sticks, shrimp, and kabobs (skewers) are nice for lunch or dinner. i absolutely LOVE fondue !! For desert a fruit bowl or rich bread, with yogurt or pudding for dipping might be nice. These could provide nice closure without too much of a blood sugar spike. If blood sugar is not a problem then a mini fruit muffin would be wonderful
- Graphics (Sx= problems with information-processing): Even at this early stage, i often do not understand or remember what is meant by the terms “hash browns”, “french fries”, and other words that do not have a specific meat or vegetable included in the name. So now i often need PICTURES for side-dish options.
- Graphics (Sx= problems with information-processing): Smaller selection on each page of special menu, but pictures for each option with flags on pictures showing spicy, etc. But be aware that visual processing can sometimes be retained longer for some persons with dementia (like me), but others may have mostly lost visual processing and retain more audio processing (which is almost completely gone for me). My friend may need someone TELLING her the options in order to process the information. Both of us will process it best if we can see the visual while we also hear the information — two sensory sections of impaired brain working on the same information simultaneously doubles the likelihood of processing.
So best scenario would be telling while also pointing out the various menu options.
Later-stage suggestions (i don’t need these YET):
- Color contrast table/plates (due to Sx/ loss in depth perception).
- May need to steam vegetable sticks (due to Sx/ dental issues).
As mentioned in the Journal of Dementia Care, “Many cultures provide examples of finger foods which could be adapted for older people: antipasto from Italy features a range of meats and vegetables, as does yum cha (or diӑn xin) from China. Meze – finger foods common to the Mediterranean, Balkans and parts of the Middle East– are often moist and combine grains, dairy (yoghurt and cheeses), meat and vegetables.”
ADA Business Brief at https://www.ada.gov/archive/svcanimb.htm ,
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