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Why Do Older Adults with Dementia Quit Eating & Drinking?

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When seniors enter the later stages of dementia, they may have difficulty eating and drinking. There are several reasons seniors start to refuse food as the disease progresses, ranging from loss of appetite to physiological changes. Here are a few reasons seniors with dementia may refuse to eat and drink.

Appetite Loss

For many older adults with dementia, the unwillingness to eat is caused by lack of appetite. When seniors aren’t hungry, the source of the issue could be mental or physical. As dementia progresses, seniors often develop depression, which can diminish hunger. Loss of appetite can also be a medication side effect. If your senior loved one’s loss of appetite started when he or she began a new medication, that medicine might be the culprit.

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Lack of Exercise

Diminished appetite can also be caused by inadequate physical activity. Without getting enough exercise, the body may not realize it needs more energy-producing calories. On a similar note, lack of exercise leads to appetite loss and diminished energy levels. To get your loved one out of this unhealthy cycle, encourage him or her to do a few minutes of exercise every day.

Digestive Issues

Living with digestive issues can make the thought of eating unappetizing. Many seniors with dementia have constipation, which can leave them feeling nauseous or uncomfortable. If your loved one’s lack of appetite seems to correlate with digestive issues, try to fill his or her diet with fiber-rich foods such as cereals, dates, and prune juice.

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Muscular Difficulties

Seniors in the later stages of dementia often have little to no control of their muscles and reflexes, which makes the process of chewing and swallowing difficult. In these cases, many doctors prescribe a daily menu of soft, easy-to-chew foods. Pureed foods are much easier to swallow than traditional options. However, you should only have your loved one follow a pureed food diet after talking to his or her doctor.

Poor Oral Health

Oral issues like sores in the mouth or teeth sensitivity can make eating painful. Because seniors with dementia have difficulty communicating, these issues may go unnoticed if their oral health is ignored. In the event your loved one experiences a sudden loss of appetite, make sure his or her teeth and gums are healthy.

Dementia is one of the most serious health issues among the elderly. If your senior loved one needs help managing an illness or assistance with daily tasks, make sure you choose a top-rated provider of elderly care. Folsom Home Care Assistance is here to help your loved one live a happier and healthier life in the golden years. From the mentally stimulating activities in our Cognitive Therapeutics Method to our friendly Care Managers who are available to answer your questions 24 hours a day, we offer a wide array of high-quality at-home care services. To learn about our high-quality in-home care services, give us a call at 916.226.3737 today.