How can I better my mother with Alzheimer's nutrition?

A fellow caregiver asked...

My 88 year old mum has been victim of AD since 20001. It's now very difficult to persuade her to eat. She exists on Forticrem Yoghurts. She also now goes through harrowing periods of tormented agitation. Do you think a change of medication may help? She currently takes Trazadone. Thanks.

Expert Answer

Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.

As people with Alzheimer's progress throught the disease, appetite becomes an issue. It is often very difficult to get proper nutrients into someone who will not eat. You can try using supplements, like Boost or Ensure, as they have vitamins and protein added. Since she likes yogurt, you can try nutritional puddings, as they have the same consistency. But, keep in mind that sometimes this lack of eating is a sign that the disease is progressing.

Regarding her periods of agitation, I know from experience how distressing these can be. And yes, sometimes a change of medication can be helpful. Trazadone is often used for agitation, but it can make some people very sleepy. There are many other medications that we are using now, like antidepressants and mood stabilizers, that may help. You may want to schedule a visit with her health care professional to see if they have any thoughts.