Nurses’ Notes – Practical, Helpful Tips for Caregivers

white plate on pink placement on blue table

Perceptual Problems That Can Complicate Mealtimes

Perceptual problems can complicate the person with dementia’s enjoyment and success at mealtimes especially if there is no contrast between table coverings (tablecloths and placemats) and dishes.

Without contrast, the person will be unable to perceive what is on the table, will spill foods much more frequently and will have difficulty eating independently. For example white dishes on a white tablecloth.

To help make the mealtime a successful, pleasant and meaningful experience it is important for caregivers to ensure that the tablecloths or placemats are different colours than the dishes. For example, a light pink or light blue tablecloth with white dishes offers excellent contrast and will help clue the person with Dementia how to locate the silverware and dishes easily.

Baycrest’s Book: Dementia: A Caregiver’s Guide on p 19 talks about the importance of contrast at mealtime.

Please contact Carol Edwards at or 416-362-9176 if you would like more information about how perception affects persons with dementia.

Photo of Rosalee Berlin

Rosalee Berlin

Rosalee is a Geriatric Nurse Consultant, who was a teacher since 1982, working at Baycrest for 13 years. See Rosalee’s full bio on our team page.