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Q&A: Eating and Drinking - Thurs 30th August, 3-4 pm

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Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
Hello, thank you for having me here today. I look forward to answering your questions. I have been working as a Helpline Adviser with the Alzheimer's Society for nearly four years.
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
Is there any way to prevent fits of coughing and sneezing during or after eating and is there any known cause.

Is there any connection with the above and aspiration pneumonia.

Hello, thank you for your message.


Often a decreased appetite and changes to nutritional intake are common and as dementia progresses and the person with dementia may experience reflexes or involuntary responses that can be a problem when attempts are made to encourage the person to open their mouth for feeding.


I am afraid we are only able to provide you with general advice as we are not medically trained and I am unsure whether the person with dementia has had an assessment from a Speech and language therapist (SALT)?


In your question you mention aspiration pneumonia. You may like to look at the NHS choices website at the following link: https://bit.ly/2EaMZgU I would recommend that you speak further with the GP about your concerns and whether this is contributing to the difficulties the person is experiencing. You can also ask for a referral to a dietician and the SALT team.


I do hope this has been of some help; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
Hi. I have noticed that mum (81) coughs a lot straight after eating and not at other times so she doesn't have a cold. Is this part of bvtFTD? Thank you.

Hello, thank you for sharing your mum’s situation around eating. I am sorry to hear that she is coughing a lot after eating, this sounds like it would be distressing for her and those around.

It is common for people as their dementia progresses to experience difficulty eating and drinking. There are lots of reasons for this including lack of appetite, problems with communicating and recognising hunger and thirst, poor co-ordination, becoming easily tired and difficulties with chewing and swallowing.

If a person with dementia has difficulties swallowing they may not be able to tell you, however you may notice some of the following:

· repeated coughing and/or throat clearing after swallowing food or drinks

· choking when eating and drinking

· a wet sounding voice after swallowing

· a reluctance to eat and drink

· food and drinks are not swallowed but are held in the mouth.

Has your mum had an assessment from a Speech and language therapist? If not, I would suggest asking for a referral through her GP.


A painful mouth or ill-fitting dentures can make chewing difficult and uncomfortable. You may also like to take a look at the following information links: Eating & Drinking: http://bit.ly/2pNs8s1 and Dental Care and oral Health: http://bit.ly/2r14nkK

People with dementia can tire easily which can lead to problems chewing and swallowing. Difficulties with chewing can affect people with dementia. They may hold food in their mouth or forget to chew. There are certain foods that are more difficult to chew or swallow and these should be avoided (these can include sweetcorn, dry biscuits, husks, stringy food etc.). I am wondering if your mum is holding some food in her mouth which may be difficult to swallow and possibly could contribute to the coughing. After speaking with a GP or dietician they may suggest trying soft, moist food that needs little chewing such as soups, soft fruit (e.g. bananas) and soft vegetables, scrambled eggs etc.

I do hope this has been of some support today; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
Hi, my question is about the SALT team. They are there to provide a very vital service to struggling dementia patients and yet 2 months have passed and my poor grandmother has not been seen. The g.p first put her on a soft diet when the referral was first made middle of June and has now had to update this to puréed and still no visit! What can I do about hurrying this along? She is now struggling to swallow medication too but they’ve said it’ll be about 2 weeks from now. It’s not fair.


Thank you for your question, I am very sorry to hear that you have had to wait some time for a referral to the Speech and Language team. It is understandably upsetting to see your grandmother having such difficulty with swallowing at the moment. As your grandmother is having difficulty swallowing medication you may like to raise your concerns again with the GP practice, as there could be possible side effects of her not taking the medication. It might be worth speaking to the GP to see if they have any suggestions about the medication such as whether is comes in a different format e.g. liquid.

In the meantime the GP suggested a soft diet. It can help to offer small regular snacks such as sandwiches with no crust (e.g. egg mayonnaise), soft fruit (e.g. banana), milkshakes/smoothies (with a straw in them), yoghurt etc.

I do hope this has been of some help; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
Just to add on to this question, what can the SALT team actually do?
Obviously Akiki thinks her grandmother is missing out by not seeing the SALT people but my wife's been seen by them twice and all they've ever done is the same as granny's GP, soft diet, then a pureed diet, thickened drinks and the like and as far as I can see all the people seen by them in the home get the same treatment.
So my question is, is there actually do beyond these obvious steps, medication, treatment of some sort...basically anything more than the obvious?
The GP has checked my wife for anything physical like tonsils (or whatever) and there's nothing physically wrong with her so what do the SALT team bring to the table (forgive the pun)?.
K


Hello, thank you for your question and sharing with us your experiences with the SALT team. You raise a very good question. The speech and language therapists can advise someone with dementia and their carer on ways of communicating more effectively, and on relieving any swallowing difficulties.

I have taken a look at the Royal College of Speech and Language therapists’ website. They explain the following. Speech and language therapists have the specialist knowledge and skills to diagnose, directly assess and support problems in relation to communication, safe eating, drinking and swallowing. They:

· Work with individuals and those caring for people living with dementia throughout the course of dementia to identify communication needs.

· Are able to work with those caring for people living with dementia and people with dementia to help maintain their interpersonal relationships.

· Are uniquely qualified to assess an individual’s ability to understand and to communicate that understanding to optimise a person’s choice, degree of control and capacity to consent to treatment and care.

· SALT team play an important role in the assessment and management of eating, drinking and swallowing problems to prevent malnutrition and dehydration, and reduce the risk of repeated chest infections, pneumonia and choking.

I am wondering if you have been given the opportunity to talk with the SALT team to raise your question in regards to how further they are able to support your wife. I can hear how you may be disappointed with this support service and are understandably thinking how else they can help your wife. You may like to request input from a dietician.

In the later stages of dementia a person’s appetite will decrease and they are likely to have problems with swallowing which unfortunately makes eating and drinking harder.

I do hope this has been of some help; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 

Hardcore

Registered User
Feb 4, 2015
4
0
My mum lives alone but seems to forget to eat or drink? I ring her in the morning and have to tell her to make a cup of tea? She says she isn't hungry. Does anyone else have this? She has always "watched her weight" and basically dieted all her life, so I'm not sure if it's the vascular dementia or just her choice? I'm weighing her to see if she's losing weight.
My Mum is the same, she says "I'm never hungry" and only eats something if put in front of her. She was diagnosed with vascular dementia 3-4 years ago. She has lost her ability to locate food in the fridge, prepare or heat food in the microwave, so even if she were feeling hungry, she wouldn't eat. She loves chopping up fruit, vegetables, e.g. carrots, and leaving them to stand in water and go off! Once a week she has Meals on Wheels, a home-made meal brought to her door, hurrah!
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
Mum keeps complaining of a "frog in her throat" and seems to constantly trying to clear it. She has no trouble eating or drinking. Diagnosed two years ago with vascular dementia. She also has underactive thyroid

Thank you for sharing your mum’s situation with us. It would be a good idea to ask for advice from a Speech and Language Therapist, as they can assess any problems with swallowing and perhaps anything that could be contributing to this feeling your mum has. It is positive that your mum is able to eat and drink. However, I can hear how upsetting it is to see your mum struggling when attempting to clear her throat. I am wondering when your mum feels this way whether it could be associated with her struggling to communicate. Speech and language therapists have the specialist knowledge and skills to diagnose, directly assess and support problems in relation to communication, safe eating, drinking and swallowing. It might help to ask the GP to refer your mum to a dietician or a speech and language therapist. They can advise on diet and ways to support a person with dementia who is having difficulties with eating. The GP can also assess if there is anything else medically going on, or if your mum is in any pain and that is why she is having discomfort in her throat.

I do hope this has been of some help; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
My wife is always looking for something to eat - she doesn't eat a lot but often; seems within an hour of breakfast she wants lunch, it drives me crazy! She has gained weight, but denies this. Is this simply an effect of Alzheimer's?

Hello, thank you for sharing your situation. It is understandable that you are feeling concerned about how to support your wife around her current eating pattern. I can hear how frustrating it can be at times when your wife is looking for something to eat after having a meal.

Being unable to recognise hunger is a common feature of dementia especially as the disease progresses. A person may end up eating more because they either don’t remember eating previously or they are worried where the next meal is going to come from.

You could consider leaving fruit (or another healthy snack) within your wife’s eyesight and in clear contrast with the plate or immediate environment. In that way when she is hungry she can reach for it, rather than trying to prepare something or go searching for food. It also means the food she is eating is healthy.

If your wife struggles with finishing a larger meal you may decide on small regular snacks throughout the day. Finger foods may help e.g. chopped bananas, grapes, berries, vegetables. With hot food, it can help to provide the food in small portions and then reheat other portions as you go. That way it doesn’t go cold so quickly.

You mention that your wife denies that she has gained weight. Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s disease affects different parts of the brain. For your wife her perception could be that she doesn’t see that she has gained weight. It sounds like this can be a difficult conversation to have with your wife and may be upsetting and stressful for you both. I am very sorry that you are feeling this way, in part it may be that you are experiencing another loss for your wife as she is unable to have the insight into her eating pattern.

You may like to ask for a referral to a dietitian through the GP to give you reassurance that your wife is getting a balanced meal and any excess weight gain is ok.

I am wondering if it would help for your wife to have something else to do when she is looking for something to eat. If possible using distraction like listening to music may divert your wife’s focus from looking for food at those times. If possible having activity, social stimulation and a routine may help to distract her from seeking out food.

I do hope this has been of some help; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
My mum lives alone but seems to forget to eat or drink? I ring her in the morning and have to tell her to make a cup of tea? She says she isn't hungry. Does anyone else have this? She has always "watched her weight" and basically dieted all her life, so I'm not sure if it's the vascular dementia or just her choice? I'm weighing her to see if she's losing weight.

My mum lives alone but seems to forget to eat or drink? I ring her in the morning and have to tell her to make a cup of tea? She says she isn't hungry. Does anyone else have this? She has always "watched her weight" and basically dieted all her life, so I'm not sure if it's the vascular dementia or just her choice? I'm weighing her to see if she's losing weight.

Thank you for your question and sharing with us your situation. I can hear how concerned you are about whether your mum is eating and drinking enough. People with dementia can experience changes in eating habits, both in how much food they eat and when and what food they prefer. A person with dementia may also not be aware they’re thirsty and be less likely to provide drinks for themselves.

Unfortunately, as dementia progresses it is common that people with dementia experience difficulty with eating and drinking. Different reasons for this include lack of appetite, problems with communicating and recognising hunger and thirst, poor co-ordination, becoming easily tired and difficulties with chewing and swallowing. Also as people become less active they are likely to be less hungry because they’re not burning as many calories.

I am wondering if your mum has been referred to a dietician or a speech and language therapist. If not, it might help to ask for a referral through the GP. They can advise on diet and ways to support a person with dementia who is having difficulties with eating and drinking.

The environment is really important for supporting someone to eat. Familiar sounds of cooking and smells of the kitchen of food can help. Keeping people involved in preparing food and drink can help maintain skills, and to stay interested in food and drink.

I can hear how difficult it has become for you to prompt your mum to eat and drink. As your mum is living on her own you may consider if possible, for a family member or friend to join her at a meal time. Alternatively, carers could come in and provide a meal for your mum. You may like to contact your local social services or the UK Homecare Association.

It is understandable that you are uncertain whether it is your mums’ intention to diet as this has been her usual pattern of eating. Is eating something that she talked about? If possible you may like to talk to her about what food and drink she likes at the moment. It can help to look for opportunities to support your mum to eat. There may be a certain time in the day that she would prefer to eat. A main meal could be eaten then and small regular snacks available throughout the rest of the day.

I do hope this has been of some help; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 

Hardcore

Registered User
Feb 4, 2015
4
0
Mum still lives on her own and seems fine making simple things like breakfast and sandwiches etc but cannot cook a hot meal. She finds the cooker and cooking instructions too difficult to follow.Any recommendations for services that deliver hot meals? If we can get her to agree to them !!
My Mum lives on her own & has the same issues. She has a Meals on Wheels delivered once a week which is a Godsend, wish this was more often. I order from 'Cook' which specialises in frozen ready meals made with fresh ingredients as if from home. The meals are designed to be microwaved from frozen in 5 minutes :) My Mum loves them, and always has a jar of Mango chutney at hand in case she wants to add some extra flavour!
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
Hello
My Mum is in the later stages of dementia and has been on a pureed diet of late, but has now started to refuse, or maybe lost the ability to open her mouth. Trying to get anything into her is painstakingly slow... she has regular shots of 'procal', which obviously give her some nutrients, but I'm struggling at the mo... any help or suggestions welcome?

Hello, thank you for sharing your mum’s situation with us. I am sorry to hear that your mum is having difficulty around eating and drinking. It is understandable that you are struggling as it is upsetting to see your mum unable to open her mouth.

Often a decreased appetite and changes to nutritional intake are common and as dementia progresses and the person with dementia may experience reflexes or involuntary responses that can be a problem when attempts are made to encourage the person to open their mouth.

I am afraid we are only able to provide you with general advice as we are not medically trained and I am unsure if your Mother has had an assessment from a Speech and language therapist (SALT)?

SALTs can assess difficulties with swallowing and eating and offer support through swallowing exercises, dietary advice and changes to medication. They can also suggest nutritional supplements such as milkshakes, juices or soups that are easier to swallow and are fortified with nutrients.

You may also like to take a look at the following information links:
Eating & Drinking: http://bit.ly/2pNs8s1 and Dental Care and oral Health: http://bit.ly/2r14nkK and The Later stages of Dementia: http://bit.ly/2r1w6lt

I do hope this has been of some support; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 

acorns

Registered User
Jan 25, 2018
103
0
My mother was seen by the SALT team and put on a thick puree diet. (She is in end stage dementia.) The diet is working well but she is producing more phlegm now and has trouble getting it up or down. Have you any tips on how to get rid of this? It puts her off eating until she gets rid of it. Thanks ...
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
Hi Mark - sorry if I'm not posting as I should, I haven't used the forum previously. My mum has Parkinson's as well as dementia and I frequently find that she clamps her teeth together so that I can't get the spout of her drinking cup into her mouth or any food either. I was told it's a sort of primal reaction to not wanting to receive food and drink. Some days she has such a low amount of fluids. Any thoughts on how to encourage her to open her mouth would be very gratefully received. We try things like giving her fluids via ice cream but could really do with having a breakthrough on the closed teeth issue. Many thanks

Hello, thank you for sharing your situation with us. I can hear how much you would like a breakthrough in helping your mum to drink and eat.

Often a decreased appetite and changes to nutritional intake are common and as dementia progresses and the person with dementia may experience reflexes or involuntary responses that can be a problem when attempts are made to encourage the person to open their mouth for feeding.

I am afraid we are only able to provide you with general advice as we are not medically trained and I am unsure if your Mother has had an assessment from a Speech and language therapists (SALT)?

SALTs can assess difficulties with swallowing and eating and offer support through swallowing exercises, dietary advice and changes to medication. Difficulties in swallowing, known as dysphagia, may arise from a number of medical causes. In dementia they may be caused by damage to parts of the brain that co-ordinate the muscles responsible for swallowing. SALTs can assess the extent of these difficulties using a variety of swallow tests.

Difficulties with swallowing may make it harder to eat an adequate and nutritious diet. SALTs may help here by modifying the types, size and consistency of a person's food. They can also suggest nutritional supplements such as milkshakes, juices or soups that are easier to swallow and are fortified with nutrients.

Please find below some suggestions that may help:
· Ensure that you are serving appropriate textured food/drink – consult with SALT (as above)
· If the person with dementia is refusing food remove from their sight for 10/15 minutes and try again
· Only feed when the person is fully awake and alert
· Sit at eye level or slightly below and either immediately in front of or to one side of the person
· If the person is not opening their mouth gently prompt or touch their lips with the spoon
· Gently massage cheek or throat to stimulate swallow reflex.
· Gently remind and encourage the person to chew and swallow.
· Check the food is swallowed and the mouth is empty before offering more food.
· Make sure dentures that the person’s dentures are in and that their teeth, gums or dentures are not painful.

Alzheimer’s International has a factsheet ‘Dementia and Teeth’ https://www.alz.co.uk/sites/default/files/dementia-and-teeth.pdf and there is a useful section on ‘How to improve access to the mouth’ which might be helpful to refer to if you are also experiencing difficulties to get the person to open their mouth when brushing her teeth.

You may also like to take a look at the following information links:

Eating & Drinking: http://bit.ly/2pNs8s1 and Dental Care and oral Health: http://bit.ly/2r14nkK

I do hope this has been of some support; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
Mum still lives on her own and seems fine making simple things like breakfast and sandwiches etc but cannot cook a hot meal. She finds the cooker and cooking instructions too difficult to follow.Any recommendations for services that deliver hot meals? If we can get her to agree to them !!


Thank you for your question.

Meals on wheels may be an option, however they are not available everywhere. Contact the Local Authority or Royal Voluntary Service to find out if they’re available in your mum’s area.

Some people use frozen or refrigerated ready meals (such as Wiltshire Farm Foods) to help. Of course this depends if your mum has been used to using a microwave.

I can hear that it may be difficult for your mum to agree to extra support. As your mum is living on her own you may consider if possible, for a family member or friend to join her at a meal time. At some point she may want to consider home carers. They may be able to visit the person at mealtimes to support them to prepare food or to stay with them whilst they eat. You may like to contact your local social services or the UK Homecare Association. Please take a look at the following link on ‘assessment for care and support’: http://bit.ly/2nqhDKE

For some people who have dementia they may have a structured week which includes attending a day centre on certain days, a hot meal may be provided there. This of course is an individual choice and not always a viable option.

If carers are coming in to the house they may be able to help the person with shopping or preparing food. Online shopping may be a good way to ensure there is fresh food in the house. The person should do as much as they can for themselves, and carers shouldn’t take over. Keep people involved in preparing food and drink. It can help to maintain certain skills and help people stay interested in food and drink. Consider breaking preparation into individual tasks – e.g. preparing vegetables or buttering bread.

I do hope this has been of some help; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
@Charie1 The same thing happened to my mum in the early stages. It was one of the reasons I asked for a care needs assessment from Social Services. They created a care package of three visits a day as well as respite care. The carers give meds , prepare microwaved meals and make sandwiches and drinks. (She was also unable to tell them what she would do if she was ill, as she didn't know how to ask for help)


Thank you for your sharing your experiences with us. It sounds like your mum benefited from the needs assessment from social services and the care provided around meal times. I am sorry to hear that your mum was having trouble with communicating with those around her. If you would like to speak to the Helpline further, please do get in touch.

Vicky
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
My problem is the opposite of what most people seem to have, I can't stop my husband eating. Straight after a large meal he's asking if there's anything to eat. I tell him he's just eaten his dinner and he insists he's had nothing to eat. Even showing him his empty plate doesn't work. This has been going on for almost 3 months. Our GP has had blood tests done and everything is ok. She thinks he is just forgetting that he's eaten and suggested I write everything he's eaten down so he can read it. I've tried doing that but he still hunts for food. He's driving me mad looking for food all day, all the kitchen cupboards opening and shutting continuously I've even found him eating stock cubes!
He is 81 and was diagnosed 6 years ago with Alzheimer's/mixed but has never had a scan.


Hello, thank you for sharing your situation with us. I can hear how upsetting and exhausting this is for you both.

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for people with dementia to obsess over food, sometimes this can be due to the type of dementia the person has. People may overeat because they can’t remember when they last ate and/or worry about where their next meal is coming from. They are also likely to constantly ask and search for food. This can be very difficult to cope with, but knowing that it is the person’s dementia and not them, may help. Often this type of behaviour can reduce as the person’s dementia progresses.

There are some things which might help you and your husband. I understand that this is not always possible - it can help to make sure that your husband has something to do and is stimulated. Having activity, social stimulation and a routine may help to distract him from constantly seeking out food.

As dementia progresses, a person may try to eat or place in their mouth non-food items. This may be because:

· They are unable to recognise the item/don’t know what it’s for. Remove any items that may be mistaken for food from view. Many non-food items (such as soap) may smell or look like food (especially sweets or cake). Also, the person may be experiencing a misperception of the item (e.g. pot pourri being mistaken for a bowl of sweets).

· The person is hungry, try offering them a snack. It can help to have food available for the person to eat when they want to. Try to make sure it’s visible – placing it near a place the person always goes to or looks at may help, as will contrasting food with the plate and immediate environment.

It sounds like you’re trying really hard to make sure your husband has a well-balanced diet. Consider leaving fruit (or another healthy snack) within your husband’s sight. That way when he is hungry he can reach for this, rather than trying to prepare something or go searching for food elsewhere. It also means you know the food he is eating is healthy. It may help to offer regular smaller portions throughout the day.

As with so much of providing care and support to a person with dementia, a lot of it is trial and error. We have a factsheet on eating and drinking which you might find helpful: http://bit.ly/2pNs8s1

I do hope this has been of some support today; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
How to deal with swallowing tablets and drinking. Clearly need to drink to swallow tablets. Dad can drink (with thickening powder/fluid in his drinks) and can eat soft food but Dad can no longer do the two together with regard taking tablets. It has been like that now for about the last 2 weeks - although saying that he did manage to swallow two this morning OK. Most of the time we just crush them but dont have dr approval and know the tablets are not licenced in that form but it is either crush them or Dad doesn't take them at all. Any suggestions apart from speaking with the GP (unfortunately our GP not very good!).

Hello and thank you for your message.

I am afraid we are only able to provide you with general advice as we are not medically trained and I am unsure if your Dad has had an assessment from a Speech and language therapists (SALT)?

SALTs can assess difficulties with swallowing and eating and offer support through swallowing exercises, dietary advice and changes to medication. Difficulties in swallowing, known as dysphagia, may arise from a number of medical causes. In dementia they may be caused by damage to parts of the brain that co-ordinate the muscles responsible for swallowing. SALTs can assess the extent of these difficulties using a variety of swallow tests.

I am sorry that you have not felt fully supported by his GP. I would suggest going back to the GP or ask for a second opinion. Perhaps the medication can be given in a different format, such as liquid form.

I do hope this has been of some help; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
My husband constantly complains that his food is either too sweet or too salty even though I no longer use any seasoning in his food and he no longer eats desserts. It's a constant battle to get him to drink fluids, half an inch of a small cup of tea is a result.

Hello, thank you for your message. I can hear how difficult it is to help support your husband to eat and drink.

As people get older the sensation of thirst changes, which can lead to people being unaware that they’re thirsty. A person with dementia may also have similar difficulties. They may also be less able to provide drinks for themselves.

Have you ever had a referral to a dietitian? They might be able to offer you some advice and support. The following suggestions may be of use:


· Have a drink on hand when eating.

· Use a clear glass (so the contents can be seen) or a brightly coloured cup (to draw attention).
· Offer the person the cup or put it in their line of sight (if possible).
· If someone has problems with their sight describing the drink and where it is (e.g. I’ve just made you a cup of tea and put it on the table in front of you) might help.
· Offer different type of drinks, both hot and cold (and not just water), throughout the day.
· Make sure the cup/glass is suitable – not too heavy or a difficult shape.
· Consider using foods that are high in fluid e.g. gravy, jelly or ice cream.

As we get older in general our taste-buds change. It sounds like your husband is finding foods to be too sweet and salty. It sounds like you are doing everything you can to provide a well-balanced diet, but this is tricky when your husband is tasting food that is savoury to be sweet and salty. I am wondering if there is any particular food or drink which your husband has a preference for and whether this can be placed around the house so he can snack and drink throughout the day.

If possible would it help if your husband were to be involved in preparing food and drink. It can help to maintain certain skills and help people stay interested in food and drink. Perhaps, if your husband can see what is going into the meal he may be more tempted to eat it. However, I think what you are saying is that he finds food in general too salty and sweet and this could be due to the progression of dementia and the damage to that part of the brain.

I would suggest asking for advice through a dietician so that you can have the reassurance that your husband is getting the necessary nutrients.

I do hope this has been of some help; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 

Mark_W

Registered User
Sep 28, 2015
4,036
0
London
We've had this question from Jenny over email:

HI

My Mum has Alzeimers. She doesnt cook anymore and when I visit she has a fridge full of chocolate trifle jam tarts cakes.

In the cupboard there are mars bars, biscuits all things unhealthy and sweet. Her partner takes her shopping and this is what they both buy. He is type 1 diabetic and 84, and she is 73.

I am worried because she is putting on weight, doesnot go walking at all as has painful knee joints, and will add to problems later.

Is the sweet tooth normal in Alzeimers as she never used to have anything like this and would always eat healthily?

thank you

Jenny
 

Vicky.H

Registered User
Jul 19, 2016
37
0
We've had this question from Jenny over email:

HI

My Mum has Alzeimers. She doesnt cook anymore and when I visit she has a fridge full of chocolate trifle jam tarts cakes.

In the cupboard there are mars bars, biscuits all things unhealthy and sweet. Her partner takes her shopping and this is what they both buy. He is type 1 diabetic and 84, and she is 73.

I am worried because she is putting on weight, doesnot go walking at all as has painful knee joints, and will add to problems later.

Is the sweet tooth normal in Alzeimers as she never used to have anything like this and would always eat healthily?

thank you

Jenny

There have been a few questions around eating and preferences for sweet foods. I hope this answer can support you as well.

Hello, thank you for your message. I can hear how worried you are about your mum.

It is common for people as their dementia progresses to experience difficulty eating and drinking. There are lots of reasons for this including lack of appetite, problems with communicating and recognising hunger and thirst, poor co-ordination, becoming easily tired and difficulties with chewing and swallowing.

People with dementia tend to crave sweet food, due to changes in the brain and changes with taste as we get older. This is why so many people will eat cakes and biscuits etc. any may not touch anything savoury.

If you're worried about how much sugar someone is eating you can try 'sweetening' up other types of food (bread and jam is an example, as is things like adding sweet sauces (honey/cranberry sauce/apple sauce/sweet chilli sauce)and chutneys to food, honey helps). You could also try sweeter types of foods e.g. carrots, sweet potato etc.

If someone is asking for sweet things you could try smaller portions of these or slightly healthier options e.g. bananas and custard, stewed apples, frozen yoghurt, low fat ice cream etc.

Consider leaving fruit (or another healthy snack) within the person’s sight. That way when they are hungry they can reach for this, rather than trying to prepare something or go searching for food elsewhere. It also means you know the food they are eating is healthy.


Be led by the person on when they prefer to eat. Some people like a light lunch and larger evening meal and others prefer a main meal in the middle of the day. With hot food, if it is taking someone a long time to eat it may go cold before it’s finished. This means that someone doesn’t eat, even though they want to. It can help to provide the food in small portions and then reheat other portions as you go. That way it doesn’t go cold so quickly. Herbs and spices could be used to enhance flavours.

The environment is really important for supporting someone to eat. Making sure it is quiet and well-lit and supportive can make a real difference. Letting the person choose where they want to eat can help. Some people with dementia will also have problems with their sight. They may not be able to see or recognise the food in front of them. It may help to give a verbal description of the food. Make sure to use colour contrast of food and cutlery and avoid patterned plates.

If the person has developed a strong preference for particular foods, and is not eating enough of other foods, or they are struggling with excess weight gain, ask the GP for a referral to a dietician. They can advise on diet and ways to support a person with dementia who is having difficulties with eating and drinking.

You may also like to take a look at the following information links:

Eating & Drinking: http://bit.ly/2pNs8s1 and Dental Care and oral Health: http://bit.ly/2r14nkK

I do hope this has been of some support; please do get in touch with the Helpline if you have any further questions.

Vicky
 
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