Severe Dementia Weight Loss

4 Things to Know About Weight Loss in Severe-Stage Dementia

It's probably not your imagination that a loved one with severe dementia appears increasingly fragile over time. Weight loss is common at this stage, even among individuals who for a time were gaining weight because they'd forget they'd just finished a meal and eat more. Now the mind is not only unable to read the body's hunger signals, but the appetite itself is downshifting. Eventually, the body will want less as it begins to shut down.

For now, here's an appropriate response:

  • Try calorie-dense nutrition beverages to supplement an indifferent appetite.

  • Offer softer, more easily swallowed foods (scrambled eggs, thickened soup, yogurt).

  • Check to see if any mouth issues (ulcers, ill-fitting dentures, cavities, or infections) are a possible root cause. If you sense mouth pain, see if you can get a dentist to do a check -- preferably one with experience treating patients with dementia.

  • Do mention weight loss and a loss of interest in food to the doctor.

  • But don't be overly alarmed. These changes are part of the disease process.


almost 3 years ago, said...

thank you


over 3 years ago, said...

Mood swings, sleeplessness were not a surprise but the physical appearance changes were. Due to weight loss because of appetite change my 6'3", 185 lb. husband changed quickly over the span of 2 years and especially in the final months from a strong robust atheletic man into a shriveled husk - he went in 2 weeks time from doing 2 hrs. per day on a treadmill to not being able to walk across a room without muscles seizing and needing to be caught before he could fall - this happened when he started refusing to eat at all the last week and a half he lived. Thankfully our doctor sent the Visiting Nurses Home Hospice Care team with equipment and one of my son's came home to help the last week my husband lived. Still the physical change was a shock and no one had told me to expect dementia to end that way. Now I know it is a common ending to that horrible disease.


over 3 years ago, said...

My mother has primary progressive aphasia with dementia. She has lost 30 pounds and if it weren't for the Boost she loves to drink I can't imagine what she would weigh. Knowing that this lose of appetite and weight is all part of the process has been very helpful. I used to get so upset when she wouldn't eat but now I don't try to force her to eat. What makes this and her sundowning so difficult is that because of the aphasia, she no longer can speak. A few words come out clearly but very few. It is just so sad. She loved to read and cook and now can't do any of that. Has anyone else had someone with progressive aphasia?


almost 4 years ago, said...

Just another part of the journey of decline. We have been on this journey for 10 years, my job is to keep her hydrated and satiated. The body no longer gets the same nutrition through digestion, she happily chews down Tylenol PM's at bed time (yuck) so her taste memory and recognition is gone. We play airplane at dinner time but I know in my heart of hearts she will go by lack of nutrition because physically she is good to walk miles and miles. She is sleeping in much later like 10 am and i put her to bed at 8.


almost 4 years ago, said...

Knowing this is part of the dying process. AND our doctor said the patient does not feel hunger or thirst and is not in pain because the brain is not sending/receiving signals to/from the body.


almost 4 years ago, said...

Your advise are all very helpful, althou my sister who has this disease is away from me (she is in the Philippines) I am being informed of her condition thru the phone by her son. My question now, she is always laying down, sleeping or just watching TV program of another culture which I know she doesn't understand - how can I resolve this issue. Can I force her to stand up and try to dance with her tell story or what else I do. I am going to pay her a visit soon. Can I give her some energy drink like ensure or boost. I believe she is in the final stage where she can do anything by herself. Please help.


over 4 years ago, said...

My 'person' seems to not only be eating less (food, not ice cream!) he also seems to have lost his sense of smell. Of course, that is a big part of taste so it is understandable. i give him things that are soft and that he may like. There is always ice cream in the freezer. He doesn't eat 4 dishes in one evening, he has one dish 4 times because he forgets he has had any! How sad/. he also won't put his partial denture in so has trouble eating a lot of things, esp veggies!


over 4 years ago, said...

My father is 89, we recently had to put him in a skilled nursing home under hospice....dad has dementia and many physical problems. My father hasn't had a real meal in over a month and has lost at least 25 lbs. He only has 1 kidney, how long can he last on a calorie intake of maybe 400 calories a day.


over 4 years ago, said...

I have been extreemly upset lately, due to my Mothers "lack of appetite". Although she has been overweight most of her adult life, and the weight loss has not yet been a huge problem, the fact that she has lost about 100lbs. has had me very stressed. It helps me to know that this is yet another stage of this "process", and it has nothing to do with me, or the care, that I am trying to provide. Thank you!


over 4 years ago, said...

It is a frustrating time during this stage. If they will not do the protein drinks there is not a whole lot else you or the doctors can do, but start the feeding tube. Been going through it for a year now and the body will start to digest itself, if left untreated by the doctors. Remember you can lead a horse to water, but you cannot make them drink.


almost 5 years ago, said...

My Mother recently spent four days in the hospital with Acute Renal Failure. I have been very upset since, because my mother is losing weight, and barely eating (and drinking), even when what I give her is something that she has requested. She always has different excuses ie; "I'm not hungry", "I thought I ate plenty", "how would you feel, if someone made you eat, and you were full" etc. This article helped me to see that this is just one more "stage" of this horrible desease.


almost 5 years ago, said...

Information is always helpful whether it is for now or future. At the moment my mother is forgetting that she has eaten


almost 5 years ago, said...

It was very helpful.. Now I have a better understanding of my wife's recent weight loss... I'll mention this to her primary care doctor, who didn't seem to know what was causing her to lose weight...Its simply a common cause at her stage of dementia. Thank you


about 5 years ago, said...

My mother passed away two weeks ago.She had dementia.About 3 weeks before she passed, she started not wanting to eat. A few days later I noticed that her tongue was white and a little swollen.I had the nurse from hospice look at it and she said that my mother had thrush,probably because she was pocketing her food,which caused the bacteria.They gave her medicine that worked very fast and at least made it more comfortable for her . Foods that I was able to feed her were baby foods such as fruits and some of the meals. This can be a little pricey but the amount of food she ate was so little that it was'nt a problem. I also got canned soup(such as chicken noodle, vegetable beef) and put it in my food processer, this worked very well. So when your loved one is'nt able to chew make sure to swab their mouth out.I hope that this bit of info helped someone Good Luck with your journey


about 5 years ago, said...

knowing that weight loss could be connected with dementia


about 5 years ago, said...

The part about mouth issues. My Chuck had teeth cleaning in June by the visiting Dental Care unit @ his nursing home. In late july I saw red gums & at least 3 holes in his front teeth. He has been biting himself. He cannot communicate pain or discomfort. His tech said he won't let her brush his teeth. the cavities look so bad. He had such beautiful teeth. The dental unit is returning next week. I am concerned 1. They did not see the obvious cavities. 2 They may not be very competent 3 Do I allow them to pull his teeth if they can't fill the cavities. This is breaking my heart Please offer any suggestions you have on this subject. I can't tell you how valuable this care site has been for me. You people are doing God's work for sure.