3 Eating Hazards for Someone With Dementia

Endless ice cream? A new preference for pickles? Eating quirks and new food preferences can be a side effect of brain changes associated with many dementias, as the person loses a sense of the meaning of flavors. When added to the loss of sense of smell and taste, which are also common dementia symptoms, your loved one may not realize that a food is stale or unsafe to eat.

Beware of these dangerous eating habits:

  • Eating foods that have gone bad. Periodically check "sell by" dates and routinely clear spoiled food from the refrigerator.

  • Not consuming a varied diet. As he or she relies more on habit to compensate for loss of immediate memory, there might be a tendency to overeat the same foods, or favorite foods, to the exclusion of others.

  • Eating foods that aren't food at all. People with dementia have been known to choke on wooden or plastic fruit they perceived as real; drink facial products that have pictures of citrus on them, thinking it was a fruit drink; and eat paint chips, paper bits, or other dangerous substances.

Paula Spencer Scott

Paula Spencer Scott is the author of Surviving Alzheimer's: Practical Tips and Soul-Saving Wisdom for Caregivers and much of the Alzheimer's and caregiving content on Caring. See full bio