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Is Loss of Appetite a Sign of Dementia?

By , 9:00 am on

Older adults lose their appetites for a variety of reasons. One of these reasons may be the onset of dementia. People who care for seniors with dementia understand symptoms of the disease process commonly include appetite changes, heightened cravings for sweets, and weight loss or gain. As the taste buds lose sensitivity over time, seniors often need foods with more flavor or sweetness. 

Recent research suggests a connection between dementia and type 2 diabetes. Various studies seem to indicate the brain also produces certain quantities of insulin. However, when afflicted with Alzheimer’s, the insulin production rate decreases. Subsequent cell damage and death occur, which leads to memory loss. Cognitively impaired seniors often cannot remember when they had their last meal. They might also lose their sense of hunger or forget to eat. 

Studies also reveal that when Alzheimer’s or other types of dementia damage the frontal cortex of the brain, older adults often experience an increased rate of unhealthy cravings. In addition to sweets, they might also desire foods that are high in fat.

Seniors living with dementia often need extra help with meal preparation. There are a variety of age-related health conditions that can make it more challenging for seniors to live independently. However, many of the challenges they face can be easier to manage if their families opt for professional in-home care. Huntington families can rely on expertly trained caregivers to keep their loved ones safe and comfortable while aging in place.

Addressing the Problem

If your older loved one show signs of sweet cravings or loses the desire to eat, there are several tactics to consider trying. 

Keep mealtime distractions at a minimum. Turn off the TV, computer, and stereo. Remove any table centerpieces or other objects that might attract attention. When setting the table, only use plates and cutlery. 

Have the family sit down together to enjoy the meal. Engage in pleasant conversation and encourage your loved one as he or she eats. Aging adults with dementia may be deterred enough through conversation to continue eating despite what their taste buds tell them. 

Providing specialized care to a loved one with dementia is important. If your elderly loved one is living with a serious medical condition and needs help managing the tasks of daily living, reach out to Home Care Assistance, a Huntington elderly home care agency you can trust. Our caregivers are available 24/7, there are no hidden fees in our contracts, and we offer a 100% satisfaction guarantee on all of our in-home care services.

Alzheimer’s and similar dementia disorders often cause visual disturbances that affect how the brain interprets stimuli. Consider using plain white dishes and contrasting colored placemats. This way, your loved one’s brain may more readily distinguish between the table setting and the food on the plate. 

Seniors with dementia may no longer have the ability to sense food that is too hot or too cold. When the mouth makes contact with hot or cold foods, your loved one might stop eating or drinking after the first bite or sip.

A plate full of food may seem overwhelming to someone with dementia. Provide only one or two foods at any given time.

Due to the changes in taste and smell, your loved one might now reject foods he or she once enjoyed. Experiment with new foods. Take your loved one for shopping and allow him or her to help when making ingredient choices. Adding more seasoning to foods may also make them more appealing.

During the later stages of dementia, some seniors need reminders to chew and swallow their food. They also tend to eat more slowly. Allow the time needed to finish a meal.

Aging in place can present a few challenges for seniors living with dementia. However, they can still live independently at home with the help of professional dementia care. Huntington families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide their elderly loved ones with mental and social stimulation, timely medication reminders, assistance with meal prep, and much more. Our caregivers are available around the clock to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life. To hire a professionally trained caregiver, give us a call at (304) 521-2909.