The Dementia Diet: Eating Too Little, Too Much

Elderly woman with younger womanWhen one thinks about dieting, it’s usually an image of teenage girls undereating to keep that slim figure or overeating due to the rage of hormones. What you don’t know is that elderly people also struggle with dieting issues. For dementia patients, it’s a sign of that gradual decline.

In Texas, 380,000 people aged 65 and older suffer Alzheimer’s disease, a common form of dementia. It’s estimated that many of these people might encounter eating problems — either eating too little or eating too much.

For caregivers, it’s crucial to understand this so you can take proactive steps toward ensuring better nutrition for your loved one.

Undereating and Overeating

Appetite decreases as people age and bodies require fewer calories. But for dementia patients, loss of appetite is not normal, as it’s brought upon by cognitive decline. One of the first symptoms of dementia is depression, and this may explain why your loved one may be avoiding eating.

As the disease progresses and affects memory, your loved one might find it hard to remember to eat or how to eat. In addition, they may struggle to chew and swallow, thus making them avoid food altogether.

In such instances, you might need the support of a home aide; senior home health care services in Round Rock which you may find helpful in making sure that your loved one gets proper nutrition.

On the other hand, your loved one may also be eating too much. Due to changes in the brain due to dementia, they often forget that they already ate or that they’ve already had enough to eat. Changes in food cravings also cause them to binge-eat on sweets.

How to Help

The first, important thing to do is to consult physicians about your loved one’s condition. They may be able to recommend medications that would address the patient’s depression, their appetite loss, or their cravings. At home, you can make small changes in their eating lifestyle.

For instance, for those who eat too little, it might be helpful to serve more appetizing food, those that have appealing colors or scents.

A good strategy also is to give it in small portions, so the patient is not overwhelmed. For those who eat too much, limit the sweets and instead serve healthier options, such as fruits and vegetables.

Nutrition in dementia patients is a top priority. Don’t dismiss undereating or overeating behaviors. Let patients eat healthy food and regularly.