How do I get my dementia patient to eat?

3 answers | Last updated: Nov 27, 2016
Knightklown asked...

My patient who is 87 with dementia has lost a significant amount of weight. He just isn't hungry and his weight has dropped. I alerted the doctor as well as his visiting nurse yet since he is still about 10 lbs over weight they havent said anything. He has lost almost all muscle mass. As a caregiver I really don't know what to do at this point. I give him Ensure and he drinks that but hardly eats anything. I need advice.

Expert Answers

A social worker and geriatric consultant who specializes in dementia care, Joyce Simard is based in Land O' Lakes, Florida, and in Prague. She is a well-known speaker and has written two books, one focusing on end-of-life care and the other, entitled The Magic Tape Recorder, explaining aging, memory loss, and how children can be helpers to their elders.

People with dementia often become depressed and just lose their appetites. Ask his doctor about this concern as there are medications to stimulate appetite. If he will exercise with you it may help his muscle mass as well as lifting his spirits.

Community Answers

Noscreennameyet answered...

When my mother who suffers from mixed dementia (AD and vascular) refuses to eat 'normal' food, I make Ensure ice cream (1 bottle of chocolate hyperproteinated Ensure, 2/3 cup heavy cream, 4.5 ounces melted semisweet chocolate chips and a tbsp cinnamon) in a home ice cream maker. She never refuses ice cream. I also make fudge with whey protein powder added to it (1 can sweetened condensed milk, 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, 2 scoops of powdered whey protein, 1 cup walnuts and 1 tbsp almond extract all melted together and put in the fridge for an hour to set). I set 'traps' around the house with the fudge. Then I offer 'normal' food... If she eats it, fine, if not, I know she has enough proteins and minerals. Four years into Mum's dementia, my experience tells me not to insist, but just to work around the problem (and hope for the best). As for medication to stimulate appetite, I would love to know which one since my mother's doctor just shrugs off the problem and suggests that her patient be put into long term care.

Dementiadad answered...

I have also learned that dementia patients like colorful plates and place settings. Most of the time they want to eat sweets. I would suggest introducing fruits such i.e. watermelon, canelope, etc. Sometimes the patient might not want this with out a little nudging. So if I have to I will place the cut up fruit on a fork and hand it to him or I will just feed him until he says "he doesn't want anymore. Don't give up. My dad is also taking magace, megastrol acet which was prescribed.