Appetite and Dementia

As we all know, having a healthy appetite is one of life’s greatest pleasures – from delicious fruits and vegetables to sugary treats.

We are also aware that good nutrition is vital for our health, independence and wellbeing and this can be even more important in people living with dementia.

Maintaining a healthy weight can be a challenge for many people with dementia and difficulties eating and drinking can cause more difficulties which become more noticeable as dementia progresses.

There are a number of different reasons which can cause people living with dementia to have a reduced appetite. This includes:

  • Suffering with depression. This can be a byproduct of dementia and have a really negative impact on an individual, which may lead to them not feeling in the right mood to want to eat.
  • It can sometimes be caused by medication, which can induce low appetite or cause certain foods and drinks to taste different, which can be off-putting for the individual.
  • Fatigue – If an individual is not getting a great deal of sleep then this along with taking medication or the condition of dementia itself can lead to lack of appetite.
  • Lack of physical activity – When we exercise, we can feel hungrier and thirstier and have strong desire and need for fluids and food so if someone is not gaining as much physical activity as they have previously, they may not have the same strong urges to eat or drink as much.

Some Tips for Carers:

  • It can be really effective to involve the individual living with dementia in the preparation of food – whether that’s from mixing ingredients in a bowl, chopping up vegetables, or even laying the table.
  • Play some music around mealtimes as this can be really relaxing and therapeutic.
  • Try and keep mealtimes to similar timings as this can help with the person’s routine
  • Smoothies and milkshakes can be fantastic as they taste really yummy and also be easier to digest.
  • Utilise every opportunity to try and encourage eating and drinking. For example, if a person is up a great deal of the night then this may be an opportunity for them to have a night-time snack 🙂 Or if they are an early-bird, perhaps that might be a good time to encourage them to try some food.

Hope this helps 🙂

X Rebecca x

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