Loved one living with Dementia not eating?

Loved one living with Dementia not eating?

Tuesday 11th January 2022

If a person isn't eating enough, it can lead to weight loss and less muscle strength. You'll find they may also feel tired and weak, making them prone to falls. This can make them frailer and less able to recover from infections or viruses.

There can be lots of reasons why your loved one isn't eating, such as; ill-fitting dentures, trouble swallowing or not recognising they feel hungry. This may take some detective work to establish before finding a suitable solution.

Often the issue is simply your loved one has forgotten the steps involved in preparing food.
Recently when talking to a family member about their loved one (whom we have just started supporting), we asked as she lives alone, if they knew if she ate breakfast? We found no evidence of eating, such as dirty dishes, empty packaging, food waste etc. The family were unsure and were about to buy in some cereals and milk. We took this opportunity to explain how dementia often affects people and their eating habits.

We always explain dementia as being like a photo album. For every task we complete there is a corresponding photo. Often the person with dementia loses one of the photos in that album, so a step is missing. This will result in them no longer being able to perform the task at hand.

Let's look at making breakfast for example and the processes involved:

1. Think about what you would like to eat - let's say bowl of cereal.
2. Find where the bowl is kept.
3. Get bowl and take out of cupboard.
4. Find cereal.
5. Open packet of cereal.
6. Pour cereal into bowl.
7. Add milk - may require heating.
8. Add fruit or sugar as required.
9. Get spoon.
10. Sit and eat breakfast.

As you can see every task, even simple ones, involve more steps than you think. So now, imagine just step 6 is missing, the person with dementia has the opened packet of cereal in their hand but the next photo is missing. No one is around to help prompt the next step, so they put it down and wander off, completely forgetting about eating.

We observed this client can open packets (as she loves a biscuit) so suggested to family instead of buying cereal and milk to try cereal bars. They can leave these for her, so she is able to easily see them and pick them up with only 2 steps; open and munch!

If you're looking for Dementia Specialist care in Bristol, give us a call NOW on 0117 9477422.