List of Finger Foods for Elderly: Free PDF Included!

Finger foods for elderly are the perfect solution for those with Dementia who have increased pacing and just can’t seem to sit still for a meal.

Finger foods can be the key to increase food intake, increase drinking, reduce risk of malnutrition, and prevent weight loss.

Finger foods doesn’t just have to mean sandwiches, let’s explore some great options in all food categories.

Don’t forget to download the Top 10 List of Finger Foods for Elderly PDF at the end!

What are Finger Foods?

Finger foods are foods that food items that can be hand held and eaten on to go.

hand held hamburger sandwich, bite sized.

Finger foods are a great way for individuals who struggle to sit down for meals to have bite-sized portions to increase their food intake and maintain optimal nutritional status.

Individuals with decreased cognitive function such as dementia are typically affected by this and finger foods can benefit them.

Dementia can cause increased pacing, agitation, limited focus, all affecting meal time presence.  

If a person is constantly pacing and won’t sit down during a meal, having a list of finger foods for dementia patients can really help.

What are the Benefits of Finger Foods?

Finger foods can help older adults in a few positive ways:

Promotes independence with eating
Improve food consumption
Increase nutrition intake
Decrease agitation (reduce trying to get them to sit down)
Improve independence in location of eating

When Does Someone Need Finger Foods?

Individuals that have cognitive decline may find it easier to eat in a distraction-free environment. Sitting in a large dining room, which most long-term care homes have, it can be noisy, a lot of people, and constant hustle and bustle.

This can make it hard for someone who already has trouble focusing, to eat their meal.

If an elderly person is doing any of the following, I recommend reevaluating whether they would benefit from finger foods:

Constantly getting up during meals
Needs constant reminders to sit down
Have trouble using utensils
Refuse assistance with eating
Trying to eat food with their fingers
Unhealthy amount of weight loss

Making a pleasant meal time is just as important as having nutritious meals to increase food consumption.

If you are noticing that your loved one or patient is displaying any of these signs at meals, I recommend experimenting by putting a few finger foods on their plates.

Common Diseases That Increase Finger Food Consumption

Each disease will progress differently for each elderly individual, but we do see some common ones that may need finger foods:

Alzheimer’s Disease
Parkinson’s Disease
Dementia

It will depend on the exact type of disease each patient has, but some do have more tendencies towards pacing and distraction.

What to Look for When Selecting Finger Foods

Picking finger foods doesn’t just mean selecting sandwiches and cutting them into pieces. It’s important to look at their food preferences.

Try to select foods that an individual loves to eat and see if there is a way to adapt it to become a finger food.

You also want to select foods that can be offered in bite-sized portions, it does help if they are softer textures as well to reduce choking risk if they walk.

By allowing an individual to maintain their independence with eating, you can improve their quality of life, which should always be the goal.

List of Healthy Finger Foods for Elderly Individuals

Look through the categories below to build a delicious and nutritious finger food menu!

Protein Finger Foods

Hard-Boiled Eggs
Chicken Strips
Egg Salad Sandwich
Tuna Salad Sandwich
Chicken Salad Sandwich
Deli Meat Sandwich
Deli Meat Slices
Egg Bites (Baked in muffin cups)
ChickPea Pattie Pieces
Fish Sticks
Meatballs (With little sauce coating)
Handheld Burger (Can be the patty or in a bun)
Peanut Butter Sandwich

Fruits and Vegetables

Slices of oranges, lemons, and grapefruit.

Apple Wedges
Bananas
Fruit Pouches
Smoothies (Check out this post with some great high protein high calorie recipes!)
Sliced Avocados
Pears
Pineapple, Cantaloupe, Honeydew Slices
Plums
Orange Pieces
Any fruit that can be cut into slices, that is not a high choking risk food
I would avoid vegetable slices, unless the patient is very cognitively aware and not at high choking risk

Dairy Products

Yoghourt Drinks
Kefir
Yoghourt Cups
Cheese Slices 
Cheese Strings
Milk in a Cup with a Lid and Straw
Smoothies (See recipes in the above linked article!)

Grain Products

Muffins.

Muffins
Croissants
Toast Slices
Granola Bars
French Fries
Hand Held Sandwiches
Tortilla Wraps
Potato Wedges
Waffle Strips
Pancakes Cut Into Strips
Sweet Dessert Bars
Strudels
Crackers
Baked Loaves (Banana Bread)
Pita Bread (Spread Hummus on it)

Convenient Snacks

Nutrition Supplement Drinks
Dessert Bars (Brownies, Pastries)
Soft Cookies

Last Things to Consider

Here’s just a few extra tips to help you in building a balanced finger food diet.

Dentition: If an individual has either dentures or few teeth left, ensure that the items you select are softer textures. If someone is on a pureed foods, it may not be realistic to have finger foods available.

Monitoring: They should be in an area where they can be continually monitored to reduce risk of choking.

Chewing/Swallowing: Only build a meal plan with the foods that are within the diet texture they can have. Similar to above, if someone has chewing or swallowing difficulties, ensure they are always monitored while eating.

Serving Style: Reduce risk of spilling drinks by having lids and straws on all liquids being served.  Serving with a cup with a handle can help with comfort.

Serving Location: Leave foods in a familiar place every single meal.  The person can come and go as they please, but they will know where to come back to.

Encouragement: Encourage the person to sit down, but if they choose to leave, allow them.  Provide encouragement to continue to come back.

Preparation: You can bake things in muffin tins to create the perfect portion, such as egg bites, pastries, and bars.

List of Finger Foods for Dementia Patients PDF

Download your free copy of the list of finger foods for dementia patients pdf by joining our list!  You’ll be notified of all the new freebies and resources that come out!

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You can also check out this article that has snacks for elderly for various categories including high protein and soft foods!

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Michelle Saari is a Registered Dietitian based in Canada. She has a Master's Degree in Human Nutritional Sciences and is a passionate advocate for spreading easy to understand, reliable, and trustworthy nutrition information. She is currently a full time online entrepreneur with two nutrition focused websites.

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