How to Tell if Appetite Loss Is a Sign 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 to rule 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 they have 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 senior loved ones 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 Assisting Hands Home Care Potomac for the help they need. We provide high-quality in-home 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 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. Aging adults who require assistance with the tasks of daily living can benefit from reliable elderly home care. Potomac, MD, families trust Assisting Hands Home Care to provide the high-quality care their elderly loved ones need and deserve. Our caregivers are trained to help seniors prevent and manage serious illnesses and encourage them to make healthier decisions as they age.

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. 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. Potomac families can rely on Assisting Hands Home Care 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. Contact us today at (301) 363-2580 to learn more about our reliable in-home care services.