Is My Loved One’s Loss of Appetite a Symptom of Dementia?

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Recent research from Washington University in St. Louis found that sudden weight loss could predict a person would be diagnosed with dementia within a year. This early sign of dementia seems to occur because many seniors with dementia experience a loss of appetite that keeps them from eating enough food. Though appetite loss is fairly common in seniors with dementia, it can also be caused by a wide range of other issues. Here’s how you can figure out whether or not your senior loved one’s diminishing appetite is due to the onset of dementia.

Check for Any Physical Cause of Reduced Appetite

When you notice your loved one eating less food, your first step should be ruling out any physical health issues. Ask your loved one if ill-fitting dentures, an upset stomach, constipation, or other medical issues are bothering him or her. Some seniors may not want to admit to any health issues because they fear being a bother, so you may need to observe your loved one carefully or schedule a doctor’s visit to completely rule out physical issues. 

A trained professional caregiver can often identify health issues family members might miss. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Mesa Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

See if Your Loved One Eats More When Someone Helps with Meals

In the early stages of dementia, seniors may find it difficult to multitask and follow progressive instructions, so cooking food becomes quite challenging. However, seniors may not want to admit this issue, so they just dismiss it by saying they’re not hungry. If your loved one always claims to not be hungry but happily eats large meals when someone else makes the food, it may be because preparing meals is too difficult to manage independently. Since dementia makes it challenging to use utensils normally, another sign of dementia-related weight loss may be regaining the appetite after the food has been cut.

If your loved one needs help preparing and cooking healthy meals, a professional caregiver can be a fantastic source of support. Certain age-related conditions can make it more challenging for seniors to age in place safely and comfortably, but Mesa live-in care experts are available around the clock to help seniors manage their health. Whether your loved one is living with dementia or is recovering from a stroke, you can trust the professional live-in caregivers from Home Care Assistance to enhance his or her quality of life.

Consider Whether Your Loved One Displays Signs of Depression

Depression is a fairly common cause of appetite loss, so consider whether or not your loved one is depressed. Other symptoms of depression include insomnia, sleeping for long periods, being excessively angry or sad, not exhibiting any feelings, and having frequent bouts of hopelessness. Keep in mind a depression diagnosis doesn’t necessarily rule out dementia. The changes to the brain that happen during dementia can also end up causing depression.

Think About the Types of Food Your Loved One Will Eat

Dementia experts have found that unhealthy cravings begin to increase as a person’s dorsolateral prefrontal cortex shrinks, which can result in some seniors claiming they have no appetite for normal meals while still snacking frequently on sugary foods. Someone with another type of appetite loss will typically not want to eat anything, while seniors with dementia may still have strong sugar cravings even though their overall appetite is reduced.

Monitoring your loved one’s appetite is essential to ensure his or her wellbeing, and a professional caregiver can watch closely for these types of health issues. In Mesa, senior care agencies can be a great boon to seniors. With the help of the caregivers at Home Care Assistance, your aging loved one can lead a happier and healthier life. We offer a revolutionary program called the Balanced Care Method, which encourages seniors to eat nutritious foods, exercise and socialize regularly, and focus on other lifestyle factors that increase life expectancy. To create a customized home care plan for your loved one, call (480) 699-4899 today.