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Top Tips: When a Dementia Patient Won’t Eat


When a dementia patient won’t eat, we fear it’s at this point where it might be the end of the way. There are a few easy ways to tell whether a failure to eat is just fleeting or whether it signals the body readying for the end of life. Of course, that might be the case. But it is possible that the cause is something else and can be helped.

Giving your loved one a favorite meal is one of the easiest and most popular ways to get them to eat again. This article will explain why dementia patients won’t eat and tips to help them get back to their normal life.


How Long Might a Person With Dementia Go Without Eating?

Whenever a person with dementia stops drinking water, particularly if they’re bed-bound, they can only survive a few days or perhaps a week. When a patient is dying, they typically lose their appetite and their sense of hunger. They also often refuse to drink.

Although individuals can usually go longer without eating than they can without drinking, however, a bed-bound patient who isn’t getting enough food or water at this point is unlikely to recover.


Reasons Why People with Dementia Won’t Eat

There are several things to consider that prevent an elderly one from eating something when they have dementia.

1.  Physical Challenges

If your elderly has physical issues, such as chewing and drinking difficulty or constipation, they will avoid eating. One common cause of this is dysphagia.  When a person fears choking, they often limit themselves eating or drinking. A doctor may recommend a swallowing test to diagnose eating issues.

Dentures, swollen gums, and painful teeth are all possibilities. Dental treatment, oral hygiene, and daily mouth examinations are all necessary to help them.



2.  Depression

Appetite loss is a symptom of depression. Dementia patients are prone to depression. However, successful treatment of depression is possible.  Severe cases might require medication and other forms of treatment. Consult the doctor if you think the person you’re caring for is depressed.



3.  Medicines

Variations in medicines or dosage can cause a change in appetite. In fact, even if the medicines have not been changed recently, some have a build-up effect. Speak to a pharmacist or your doctor if you suspect this is the case.



4.  Communication difficulty

Another crucial factor when dementia patients won’t eat is their loss of communication. Individuals with dementia may have difficulty expressing their hunger or dislike for the food they eat. It’s also possible that they’re uncertain what to do with the food. They will use their actions to express their needs.



5.  Feeling Tired

Dementia often causes people to stop eating or stop eating halfway through a meal due to exhaustion. It may also trigger other issues, such as trouble with focus or coordination. Dementia patients can have difficulty concentrating on a meal from start to finish. It’s critical to recognize this and encourage the individual to eat when they’re most active. It also helps to offer nutritious snacks between meals.



6.  Physically Inactive

A person will not feel hungry if they are not very busy during the day. In fact, burning calories through activity often encourage our appetite.  Encouraging them to be active, as much as possible, benefits their health and helps them eat more.

when dementia patients won't eat


5 Ways to Encourage People with Dementia to Eat


1.  Make eating more convenient

There’s a fair possibility that food will become a problem for dementia patients at any point in their lives. Utensils could also be more complicated to use. Please take into account appetizers to get them to feed quite often.

Sandwiches and finger foods often enable our elderly loved ones to enjoy their food without worrying about spilling or dropping it.

Here are a few tips:
  • Keeping your adult as relaxed as possible should aid their feeding by allowing them to concentrate on the meal.
  • Sit right in front of them at the table, make eye contact, smile, and wait for them to return the smile.
  • After that, you can begin eating without speaking Try to remain calm, polite, and make eye contact while waiting for them to follow in your footsteps.



2.  Keep Them Hydrated

For dementia patient who refuses to eat, it’s essential to keep them hydrated. Appetite deficiency can cause by dehydration. It’s even likely, that elderly patients aren’t getting enough water. As a result of their age, changes in their bodies, or medications they’re taking, they get dehydrated more quickly and easily.

Drinking water may feel hard to drink. Instead, serve a soft, liquid meal like cereal or broth to the patients.

Useful Tip:

When giving drinks to someone who has difficulty drinking, try using a straw. Alternatively, instead of thin liquids, use a thickening agent and pureed foods. Have an appointment with a speech therapist to evaluate the situation and understand how to cue others to swallow.



3.  Create the Calming Environment

Since dementia patients may get confused and overwhelmed, it’s best to keep mealtime accessible and disturbances to a minimum. Different foods, extra silverware, and centerpieces will all add to the confusion. The old saying, KISS- keep it simple sweetie- definitely applies here.

Useful Tips:
  • Offering only one or two foods can help concentrate and increase the amount of food eaten.
  • Try to prepare meals in peaceful, relaxed surroundings, away from the television or other distractions, if your senior appears too busy to feed.”
  • Maintain a basic table setting as well.
  • Try to encourage a dementia patient who is on the verge of quitting that food crucial for their survival.
  • Talk with them.



4.  Guide Them Gently

You should take on the role of the food guide. As the instructor, the job is to show how to eat every bite as though it’s the first time they’ve ever eaten. Keep good eye contact and a massive smile on your face, and don’t interrupt the individual by chatting.

When you’re trying to support others, and it’s not going as far as you’d like, it can be not very pleasant. They will observe as you do it and gradually imitate it, but they will not understand until you demonstrate it to them.



5.  Daily Exercise

Getting an older person to go for a stroll or do some gardening or housework can make them feel hungry. In fact, planning a meal outdoors often spikes the appetite.



When a loved one avoids food, it hurts the caregiver’s heart. But don’t give up quite yet. While many dementia patients avoid eating as their disease worsens, there are ways to make mealtimes more fun for them. If their meal follows exercise and social stimulation, certain patients will be more likely to consume and drink. They feel more motivated to eat or drink and therefore remain well-nourished and hydrated. Also, many find that nostalgic chats around a plate of food help. Please follow these steps and let us know in the comments.


Read More

Planning Meals for the Elderly


Depression and Anxiety in the Elderly


Why are Older People Cold


Why Do Elderly Have Trouble Swallowing


Tips for Managing Dysphagia in Elderly




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