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Best Healthy Finger Foods for Dementia Patients

One of the caregiving challenges of dementia is nutrition. Taste buds can diminish as dementia or Alzheimer’s disease progresses to a later stage, so nutritional deficiency, declining appetite, reduced food consumption, and weight loss are common.

Finger foods provide a healthy diet solution for those with eating struggles. They can be a caregiver’s alternative to serving nutrient-dense foods to their loved ones.

Benefits of Finger Foods

With dementia, a simple task like holding utensils will eventually become challenging. At some point, your senior parent may even forget how to use them. Diet concerns turn worse as dementia patients slowly lose their appetite or ability to taste. Serving finger foods is beneficial for the following reasons:

Easy to Gulp and Digest

Healthy, soft finger foods are easy on the stomach and for people with swallowing problems, called Dysphagia.

Less Overwhelming

Older adults with mobility problems affecting their hands may find using utensils frustrating. Practically any food item – even a piece of fresh fruit – can cause eating difficulties. A serving or two of finger foods can make it feel less overwhelming and a more effective way to address nutritional concerns.

Promotes Independence

Eating a variety of foods with hands can improve diet habits and empower your loved one as they will rely less on you or the caregiver to feed them.

Easy to Prepare

Finger foods are easy meals for dementia patients and you can prepare them in minutes. They also don’t require comprehensive meal planning.

Finger Food Ideas for a Healthy Dementia Diet

Essentially, a recommended meal plate will consist of vegetables, fruits and other ideal sources of vitamins and minerals. However, a full meal in the traditional sense may not be feasible. A finger food option may be a better solution than trying to achieve the consumption of a large meal. Here’s a list of finger foods you can whip up quickly so your senior parents can eat them whenever they feel hungry.

1Steamed Veggies With Ranch Dressing

Vegetable consumption can be a challenge. Steaming is one of the easiest cooking methods to preserve the nutrients and vitamins of veggies sensitive to heat. It’s the best way to create snack or meal packs made of colorful and slightly crispy vegetables.

Some great vegetable choices to steam are broccoli, carrots and asparagus. For a healthy ranch dressing, combine Greek yogurt, onions, garlic, mustard, chives, parsley, vinegar and salt and pepper.

2Veggie Nuggets

Alzheimer’s patients may like this healthy fare, especially if you’re considering a savory spin on their meals. A fusion of their favorite fresh greens, like steamed broccoli and carrots, combined with eggs, bread crumbs, onion and cheese will fill their small plate and switch up their meals.

Toss everything in a food processor to create a nutritious mixture. Shape them into round discs using a cookie scoop. Once ready to cook, add a small amount of oil or solid shortening in a skillet and pan-fry the veggie nuggets.

3Baked Vegetable Chips

Chips are a guilt-free finger food choice for a relative with dementia. As they have longer shelf-life at room temperature, you can satisfy your loved one’s salty cravings for days — but in a healthier way.

Healthcare professionals suggest vegetables like carrots, zucchini and beetroot. But you can also mix them with sweet potatoes and turnips. Thinly slice the vegetables. Add salt, pepper and a dash of oil, then bake until they’re ready to serve.

4Homemade Vegetable Savory Muffins

Muffins are a delightful solution to incorporate veggies into their diet and complement an afternoon tea. Include a rainbow of veggies, such as peas, a green, yellow, orange, or red pepper, sun-dried tomatoes, sweet corn, carrots and zucchini. These colors can add to the attractiveness factors of finger foods and have positive effects on increased consumption.

Combine the vegetables and add whole wheat flour, cheese, egg and baking powder. Bake and enjoy with the rest of the family.

5Vegetable Pizza

A delectable finger food menu enticing people of all ages is pizza. A vegetable option can spice up taste buds without the high-calorie toppings and salty additions. Like nuggets, you can throw in their favorite veggie — like olives, tomatoes, arugula, bell peppers, mushrooms and spinach — as toppings to make a wholesome bite.

Almost all toppings pair well with thin-crust dough, so mix and match them based on your relative’s food preferences. Pizza is a great use of finger foods to engage the eater. Since pizza can be eaten with the fingers easily, it doesn’t need fine motor skills. However, be sure the melted cheese isn’t too hot.

6Chicken Wings

Chicken wings are a healthy protein source that complements pizza well. They’re part of many healthy diet patterns — like keto and paleo — and contain vitamins and minerals that help boost the immune system. With low carb but high in protein and healthy fat, these crispy, well-seasoned appetizers deserve a spot in the meal plan. Make sure to avoid the deep-fried option and bake them instead.

7Baked Meat and Seafood

Balanced and good nutrition requires moderate amounts of animal products and seafood selections that impress the taste buds. Try easy-to-prepare options, like baked chicken tenders, homemade fish sticks (sometimes called fish fingers), crab puffs and shrimp and goat cheese tapas. These lean protein foods have a place in every diet.

8Fruit Slices

Fruits rich in nutrients can boost immune function. Some nutritious selections, like wild blueberries, support brain and heart health by improving blood flow, potentially slowing down cognitive decline. Serving seasonal fruits is the best as they’re fresh, abundant and more affordable than out-of-season options. Cut them into small pieces and enjoy them with your senior loved one.

You can introduce some cottage cheese, peanut butter, or possibly hard-boiled eggs as a strategy to boost protein intake. However, make sure you are aware of any allergies present.

9Jam or Butter Sandwich

Small sandwiches are handy all-day healthy finger foods. Make healthy mini-bites using homemade fruit fillings. Instead of buying from the grocery — which usually has preservatives and heaps of added sugar — making your own fruit jam will allow you to customize the flavor and substitute sugar with an organic sweetener.

Common choices for jams are strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and stone fruits like apricots. Experiment with mango or papayas. As fruits are naturally sweet, you can add some honey and mix in some chia seeds to achieve a good consistency.


Another nutritious use of fruits is smoothies. They are commonly consumed as drinks but can be part of nutritious meals by including protein like tofu or satisfying slurpable snacks. Blend some fruits and vegetables with yogurt and milk.

11Fruit Spring Rolls

A rice paper wrapping twist to summer fruits sounds tasty — and this is what fruit spring rolls with lemonade dip deliver. To create this simple recipe, start by slicing fruits like mango, strawberry and raspberry into small pieces. Wrap them up in rice paper, roll, and fold them, making sure the fruits are completely covered. Served with a chilled lemonade dip. The addition of a sauce in any situation add a fun extra layer of flavor.


Pistachios, macadamia, almonds and walnuts are the best snacks containing vitamins, minerals and compounds that support health from head to toe. They’re great all-day snack options. Serve some raw nuts or roast them to enhance their flavor and aroma. Again, be aware of food allergies.

13Trail Mix

A quick, convenient snack your loved one will surely enjoy nibbling is a high-quality trail mix that provides energy and nutrients. The combination of dried fruits, granola, seeds, nuts and other wholesome ingredients makes eating them fun. Create your own by mixing walnuts, cashews, pumpkin and sunflower seeds, roasted chickpeas and dried fruits.

Finger Foods for Dementia Patients
Courtesy Unsplash

Finger Foods Contribute To Good Nutrition for Dementia Patients

Changes in appetite may raise the risk of malnutrition or lead to an unhealthy amount of weight loss in a short period of time. One method to avoid these physical changes is to rev up your loved one’s appetite and make their diet more manageable. Make the act of eating itself less overwhelming by serving bite-sized healthy foods.

Try these suggestions to increase their food intake. These options provide variety to their taste palate and the crunchy yet soft texture of foods can help minimize chewing, swallowing or digestion challenges. Serving these finger foods ensures your loved one has healthy snacks to enjoy whenever needed. You might even discover they have some new favorite foods!

About the Author

Beth Rush

dementia and environment
Beth Rush

Beth Rush is the Managing Editor and Content Manager at Body+Mind.

Body+Mind features articles about diet, fitness, mental health, parenting and health care.



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