Background. People with dementia encounter problems in eating and these have been reported in various studies. Many of these studies focus on individual difficulties and neglect the social, environmental and cultural aspects of meals and eating. Studies often centre on the problems of providing food instead of the experience of those receiving food. Less is known of the perspectives of family carers and residential or domiciliary care staff than of nurses’ perceptions. Only recently are the perspectives of family carers and people with dementia joining nurses’ discussions.
Aim. The present paper considers feeding and eating in the context of enhancing support of life for people with dementia. Drawing on a range of literature, it highlights themes that are well developed and aims to identify areas of little knowledge and potential investigation.
Conclusions. In the United Kingdom, the areas of feeding and eating are likely to assume greater importance in attempts to promote rehabilitation, in moves to offer training to unqualified staff and in enhanced vigilance of the experience of people with dementia. Their problems with respect to food and its consumption need to be interrogated and informed by interventions that are ethical, socially inclusive and acknowledge the importance of food to well-being.