What to look for?
Appetite | Common Signs
- Forgets to eat if not prompted to do so
- Rarely finishes a meal
- Is not hungry or refuses to eat at mealtimes
- Only eats "tea and toast" or other simple meals
- Eats the same food or meals every day (e.g. less variety in diet)
- No longer wants or likes to eat foods they once enjoyed
- Eats more junk food or sweets
- Shortly after eating, wants to eat again (e.g. forgets they already ate)
- Has had a recent weight change (e.g. clothes are looser, tighter)
- Eats unusual food combinations
- Will eat food that is spoiled or rotten (e.g. doesn't recognize that food is gone bad)
Appetite | General Description
Memory impairments and damage to neurons in the brain result in changes in eating habits as Alzheimer's disease progresses. Good indications of a change in eating habits are any weight changes that recently have taken place. A weight loss or gain provide clues to whether the person you care for is having difficulty eating, whether they are overeating or whether they are not eating at all. In the early stages , they might have stopped eating because they find grocery shopping to be difficult and tiring. In addition, memory impairments lead to many difficulties with eating. The person may eat again if they have forgotten that they just ate, or they may stop midway through a meal because they have forgotten what they were doing. The taste of food is also often affected by Alzheimer's disease. This may explain changes in the types of food eaten, such as increased junk food or sweets, and it may explain a new dislike for a favourite food. The person you care for may find the process of meal preparation too difficult and tiring. In this case, they may prepare simple meals with minimal cooking, such as tea and toast. Often these people are missing important vitamins and nutrients because they are not getting a well balanced diet.
People with Frontotemporal dementia often have an increase in their appetite resulting in weight gain. They may decide to have frequent meals and choose foods that are sweet. In later stages they may become fixated on eating certain foods constantly and finding a healthy diet may become difficult or impossible. Food supplements and vitamins could be tried.
Impaired appetite can be an early sign of dementia. It is also common in depression . Impaired appetite can be an adverse medication reaction, or a sign of other illnesses. For all these reasons, it is important to talk to a doctor about impaired appetite or weight loss in a person with dementia.
If this symptom is affecting your daily life SymptomGuideTM can help you understand and communicate with your doctor and family members. You can start using SymptomGuideTM now by creating your individualized profile.