8 Unusual Things People With Dementia May Try to Eat

Late in dementia, your loved one may have difficulty recognizing what foods are safe to eat. This can present some dangers that most caregivers never dream of.

It may never happen to you, but be aware of the following things that people with dementia have tried to eat:

  • Cubes of raw chicken or beef from the refrigerator or counter

  • Sugar, straight from the sugar bowl

  • Shampoo (because of a pretty fruit label or scent)

  • Fake fruit

  • Pretty balls of soap or bath beads that resemble candy

  • Oil (poured into a glass)

  • Paint chips (from a windowsill, for example)

  • Foods past their expiration dates

Play it safe if your loved one is prone to wandering around the house and opening cupboards, and remove dangerous or deceptive-looking substances from reach.


almost 2 years ago, said...

I came into the kitchen yesterday just in time to see my husband drying the cat litter scoop on the dishtowel. He had washed it with our dish cloth and wanted to know where I wanted him to put it. Yukk. So glad I walked in when I did.


over 2 years ago, said...

Not just food... My mother ate her wedding and engagement rings (they were fastened together). I noticed that they were missing, and a short time later she had an xray for a fall (nothing broken luckily) and the doctor called me in and showed me ... "There appears to be a diamond ring in her colon..." I had several more xrays taken over the months following and it had not moved, they finally told me not to worry about it anymore, it was stuck and not bothering her so... There it sits.


over 3 years ago, said...

Thanks for this information. My husband is a picky eater, no anything that swims, no eggs, no fat or chicken skin even at this Stage (5-6) he still picks out from his mouth little pieces of fat in chicken or pork. But yet, I can never tell what he would pick out as he is very curious, picks things out with his hand including things on the ground which can be something poopy or nasty. Oh, I just hope for the best for both of us. It is getting more difficult.


almost 4 years ago, said...

Also check the cupboards, items like milk might be put in a kitchen cabinet instead of the refrigerator. Also dishes may just be rinsed and put back away, instead of a full wash. When they ate out, they would take some packets of artificial sweetener (which they don't use) 'for when we have people over' - which they hadn't done in years.... All the little signs add up. We watched our parent's fridge become quite empty over the years. Also, little tiny containers or zip-lock bags of one or two bites of food in the freezer. We really knew they couldn't plan meals when they were getting ready to go out to dinner at 7:00pm on Christmas Eve - snow outside, and nothing open for 40 or 50 miles. It was time to move them. When the cordless phone got left on and outside for overnight, we had to send the Sheriff's office to do a welfare check on them. Scared both them and us.


about 4 years ago, said...

Glad to know my mom isn't "crazy!" She has been trying to eat unusual things for a couple years now. Didn't realize other people did the same thing! Just another affirmation for me.


over 4 years ago, said...

Just a little tip, to watch what they pick up from the floor.We were away for a few days visiting when my husband was chewing on something he picked up on the rug in front of him. I immediately asked to see it. He had picked up someones fingernail, or toenail, and was chewing on it. So be aware, they can really fool you.


over 4 years ago, said...

Although we as the caregivers , we forget that the loved one can't differentiate as they did at one time, so it does fall into our hands to take the appropiate measures to care for our loved ones.


almost 5 years ago, said...

My mom has lost her sense of smell and taste (except for things that are very sweet). It is scary because she can easily not know that something has gone bad in the fridge, not pay attention to the expiration dates and eat or drink it. Also,she brings home "doggie bags" and forgets about them. Unless we keep up with what is new in the fridge, she would eat things that were way too old unless it actually looked bad. Her daily caregivers and I regularly go through her refrigerator and throw things out.


about 5 years ago, said...

I would never have thought of this being a potential hazard. It's a brand new day.


about 5 years ago, said...

Before we got our folks moved to an assisted living facility, my brother and I had a contest called, "Find the oldest food in mom's fridge". I thought i had my bro beat with some salad dressing that had expired 4 years earlier, when he called and triumphantly proclaimed that he had won hands down....he found a Christmas fruit cake in the fridge downstairs squirrled away in the back that was labeled 6 years earlier.


about 5 years ago, said...

If it wasn't because of Caring.com my days would be very difficult taking care of my mother-in-law. Thanks"¦


about 5 years ago, said...

As Social Worker in a Senior Apartment Complex, we strive to stay abreast of helpful articles. Keep up the great work


about 5 years ago, said...

I never considered these could be an issue. Thank you for all the great inforamtion you provide. I'm new at this caregiving chapter in my life and could not get thru it without your helpful information and support! Thanks many, many bunches!


about 5 years ago, said...

I have rated this article before, but everytime I return to it, I find it even more appropriate. The number of details we have to go through in the kitchen and everywhere else in the house to keep it safe for someone with dementia is really overwhelming! Thanks again for this article!


about 5 years ago, said...

We learn every day with our mistakes. I thought that a bunch of little ornamental berries would look pretty in a vase on the table. Little I knew that my MIL would think they were lolypops! She took a bite on one of those before I had a chance to take it away. I searched desperately everywhere, to ensure those red berries were not toxic! Fortunately,although not eatable they do not cause harm if swallowed. As I said, we keep learning and improving everyday as caregivers!


about 5 years ago, said...

Just the awarness of what could happen


about 5 years ago, said...

How about 10 bananas in one day?


about 5 years ago, said...

My father-in-law has eaten food out of the trash can.


over 5 years ago, said...

Thanks for the article. The examples reported here confirm our fear of leaving certain foods or other items readily available. We keep the freezer sealed, leaving frozen foods out of reach. We also keep the foods that are safe available. We've noticed also that a dishcloth can be mistaken for a floor sweeper. Syrup is used as detergent. Things happen randomly. It is hard to predict or to prevent misuse of certain items. However we learn in a daily basis what to do to prevent accidents or food being wasted.