Dementia is mostly known for the effects it has on memory and cognition. However, there are other lesser-known symptoms a senior with this condition can experience, including changes in the ways he or she eats. Las Vegas, NV, elderly home care experts discuss 4 of the common effects dementia can have on a senior’s appetite and eating habits.
1. Sugar Cravings
Dementia is sometimes referred to as diabetes of the brain. As the disease progresses, insulin levels in the brain decrease and glucose levels increase, which causes brain cells to die. This fluctuation in insulin and glucose levels in the brain causes many seniors with dementia to develop intense cravings and preferences for sugary foods.
A portion of the brain called the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex helps us exercise restraint in our diet. If dementia attacks this segment of your elderly loved one’s brain, he or she may develop an insatiable appetite and compulsively overeat as a result. This lack of restraint may be exacerbated if your loved one is unable to recall if he or she has recently eaten or cannot remember his or her normal mealtime.
3. Eating Too Little
Seniors in advanced stages of dementia are often unable to perceive or interpret hunger and thirst sensations and may even forget how to chew or swallow. Embarrassment regarding these concerns may cause your loved one to simply avoid eating. If your loved one has always been weight conscious, he or she may revert to long-held beliefs that snacking is bad and restrict food intake even if he or she has had very little to eat throughout the day. Seniors with mid to late stage dementia also tend to be more sedentary, which further decreases the appetite and the need for calories.
4. Alterations in Taste, Smell, and Visual Perception
Taste buds diminish with age, which can increase the desire for heavily seasoned foods and cause old favorites to suddenly seem unappealing. Dementia can also alter or decrease the sense of smell, which is closely linked to appetite and the perception of taste. Poor eyesight and dementia-related visual perception may even make it difficult for your loved one to recognize and discern the food on his or her plate.
To learn about additional lesser-known symptoms of dementia, reach out to the dementia care experts at Home Care Assistance. In addition to specialized dementia and Alzheimer’s care Las Vegas, NV, seniors can count on, we also offer respite and live-in care, and our caregivers can assist with meal prep, grocery shopping, and much more. For more information on our at-home care services, call one of our qualified Care Managers at 702-550-3185 to schedule a complimentary consultation.