Looking for dementia-friendly foods to improve nutrition for your loved one? If so, check out our list of finger foods for dementia patients to help you plan meals and snacks with ease. We’ve included nearly 100 finger foods in our list to give you plenty of ideas.
Meeting nutrition needs and getting enough to eat and drink can be a challenge in dementia. While there are many possible reasons a person with dementia isn’t eating, a common struggle is knowing what to do with the fork or spoon at meals.
Are you a dementia caregiver wondering if finger foods might be helpful for your loved one? If so, click here to learn more about the clues a person might benefit from finger foods.
If your loved one is starting to eat less or seems to struggle with self-feeding at meal time, this list is for you.
Finger Foods for Dementia – Tips to Get Started
First, let’s cover the basics – what are finger foods? Finger foods are handheld foods that can be picked up with one hand and do not require utensils.
Handheld foods help to increase food acceptance and allow a person maintain independence and dignity in eating. When preparing finger foods, keep the options appetizing and easy to grasp.
Here are a few finger food tips to help you get started:
Texture and Food Preferences
Consider the chewing and swallowing abilities of the person eating. Regular and soft food textures can be included as handheld foods. Finely chopped, ground and pureed foods are difficult to grasp with fingers. Those textures will require a utensil and the person may need assistance in eating.
It’s also important to think about food preferences – does the person tend to prefer foods that are soft or do they have better acceptance of foods with some crunch?
Dining with Dignity
Promoting dignity is always something to consider when serving the elderly and dementia populations. Avoid serving finger foods that are crumbly, slippery or overly messy.
For safety, serve foods that are cool, warm or room temperature. The person should be able to easily pick up and hold the food comfortably.
Serve Mini Versions
Of course, many foods can become a finger food by simply cutting them into smaller pieces. When possible, opt for a miniature version of the food. This supports dignity and keeps the food similar to what the person has been used to in the past.
List of Finger Foods for Dementia Patients
Without further ado, here is the ultimate list of finger foods for dementia patients and loved ones. This list is arranged in food groups to help you offer variety and a balance of nutrients throughout the day.
While nutrition won’t always be perfect in dementia (and that’s okay), a good general recommendation is to aim for 3-5 food groups when planning a meal.
Grains and Starches Finger Foods
- Bagels – mini or regular cut in pieces
- Biscuit with jam
- Cereal bars – soft
- English muffin
- French toast sticks
- Granola bars – soft or chewy, not crumbly
- Mini cinnamon roll
- Mini donut
- Mini muffins
- New potatoes – halved
- Pancakes – plain or with syrup to dip
- Pasta – plain or with sauce to dip
- Potato wedges
- Pretzel bites
- Ravioli – plain or with sauce to dip
- Sweet potato fries
- Tater tots
- Toast – quarters or strips
- Waffles – mini or cut into strips or pieces
Fruit and Vegetable Finger Foods
- Applesauce – serve in a mug
- Apple – sliced with peel
- Banana – whole or chunks
- Broccoli – florets
- Broccoli – cheese tots
- Cauliflower – florets
- Carrots – sticks or slices (cooked or raw)
- Cucumber – slices
- Fruit smoothie
- Fruit – sliced with peel on (easy to grasp)
- Grapes – halved (caution – choking hazard)
- Green beans
- Oranges – slices
- Pear – sliced with peel on
- Pineapple chunks
- Pureed fruit – served in a mug
- Raw veggies – with or without a dip
- Salad – deconstructed with dressing to dip
- Strawberries – cut in half
- Watermelon – sticks w/rind on end
Protein Finger Foods
- Beans – drained, pat dry
- Boiled egg – quartered
- Chicken nuggets
- Chicken sausage – cut in long strips or served on bun
- Chicken – cubed
- Chicken sandwich
- Chicken tenders
- Deli meat – rolled up or on sandwich
- Edamame – removed from pod
- Fish sticks
- Meatballs – halved or mini
- Mini burgers or sliders
- Mini quiche
- Muffin tin egg bites
- Peanut butter (as a sandwich or spread on crackers)
- Rotisserie chicken
- Sausage – mini or cut into strips
- Tuna patty
- Salmon patty
Dairy Finger Foods
- Cheese cubes
- Cheese – slices or rolled
- Milk – white or chocolate
- Smoothie – made with yogurt
- String cheese
- Yogurt tube
- Yogurt – drinkable
- Kefir drink
Combination Finger Foods
- Grilled cheese – quarters or
- Kebabs – removed from skewer
- Peanut butter & banana wrap – sliced
- Pinwheels – rolled with deli meat and cheese
- Pizza – bites, mini, or cut into small squares
- Quesadilla – cut into triangles
- Sandwich – halves or quarters
- Soup in mug
- Wrap – chicken or deli meat with cheese
Dessert Finger Foods
- Brownie – mini bites or squares
- Cookies – mini or regular
- Ice cream bar
- Ice cream cone
- Ice cream sandwich
- Mini cinnamon roll
- Mini donut
- Pound cake – strips/cubes
FREE 3-Day Dementia-Friendly Finger Food Meal Plan
Meals and snack ideas on this meal plan are created to be nourishing and balanced and serve as a general recommendation. Everyone has unique nutrition needs! For personalized nutrition advice, be sure to speak to your healthcare provider or registered dietitian.
Click the image below to get your copy of the 3-Day Meal Plan and a printable menu planner.
Key Takeaways: List of Finger Foods for Dementia Patients
Dementia often brings challenges with nutrition and hydration. Using finger foods is a strategy that can increase overall food intake and allow people with dementia to continue to feed themselves as long as possible.
We hope this list of finger foods for dementia helps you to make mealtime easier and improves nutrition for your loved one.
More Dementia Nutrition Resources
If you would like more dementia-friendly finger food tips, be sure to check out the: Ultimate Guide to Finger Foods for Dementia.
And our Dementia-Friendly Finger Food Guide that includes a printable list of finger foods, a full 7-day finger food meal plan
Feel free to pin to save for later and share with others!