My husband has always had a severe sugar addiction, which I knew down the line could cause serious health issues and here we are. Dementia. Hardly able to walk (he is/was a Triathlete: Escape From Alcatraz swimmer and all that, climbed Kilimanjaro, motorcycles (2), the whole 9 yards), not able to drive, and we gave his son all the power tools, as, being an excellent carpenter, contractor, design/build business of his own, he cannot handle any of that anymore. So he eats. And eats sugar. Toast and jam, 1/2 loaf a day...last night he made a box of jello for dinner as I was alongside him making our nightly meal, salad and seafood with produce from the garden, and this morning I see from the dishes that he ate all 4 bowls that he made last night. And put them in the dishwasher and ran the dishwasher. Do I just stop buying sugar foods? He is reliant on me for everything, he is 77 - and I am 61. I am trying to keep him healthy and he says he would rather eat sugar and live a shorter life. I'm so depressed to see him deteriorate like this, but at this point in his life I just want him to be happy. Dementia is no fun, so sugar is his drug of choice. Please share your thoughts and expertise!! Thank you in advance. I read these emails every day and this group is helping me every day.

I know that "sugar" is the popular villain nowadays and maybe justifiably. But every cell in the body requires glucose to live. In fact, every food we humans eat turns into sugar (glucose) eventually, or it is useless for nutrition. I'm not an expert, nor specialist, but I believe this to be biological fact, and I have spent many years working and studying in the health field. The list of "ose" substances (i.e. sugars) is so long and varied that legitimate researchers, and food product sales people alike, should have enough material to last them until the year 2099 at least. Oooops! Sorry. I forgot, we won't be here more than 12 more years!

I remember how, in the early 1950s my parents were told that my 85 year old grandmother should be denied puffed rice cereal with half and half cream and spoonfuls of sugar (which is all she would eat on some days). Such meals were going to kill her, said the doctor. They did kill her. She lived only 5 more years!

I know some readers will find my tongue-in-cheek words offensive, uncaring, unscientific. I apologize if they come across that way. Please don't be offended. I'm already past 77 and can, in some ways, sympathize with Jamisons husband, who apparently relished more than a little risk in his life. And what a wonderfully exciting and productive life it has been. Okay, his diet is a risk he's not willing to give up. ( I know that someday, somebody, will have to pry a Snickers bar from my cold dead hands). If hubby can make jello and operate the dishwasher he's a long ways from Alzheimers.

You may be just strengthening his resistance by making such an issue over diet. You obviously love him a lot. Tell him so. Hug him . Do things together. Give him healthy foods when he will eat them, but when he won't....change your focus. Pick your battles. You can still take good care of yourself and I hope you will. Your husband is a lucky man to have such a caring wife.
Helpful Answer (21)
Reply to Dosmo13
Neile6 Oct 9, 2019
Love your answer!
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No. The dementia didn't come from Sugar. Please don't buy into food conspiracy theory. We all want a REASON. Most of the reason is in our genetic makeup. Why are you trying to keep him going into his 90s with a diagnosis of dementia? What does he have left now but some few things he loves, like his food.
I hope others will tell you how to make carrot shreds in a jello salad mold, how to incorporate some things like the natural sugars of sweet potatoes with a little brown sugar, how to trick him into a wonderful dish made of potatoes, cheese and cream. An Italian meatball sandwich dripping with cheese? Must be something. Manwhile, keep some sugar free jello stuffed with great fruits and veggies on hand at all time.
Wishing you luck. I am an old RN and I don't much believe in deprivation at this point. Why? For what? As Dr. Dean Edell used to say "Why. For another year in the nursing home?" You might want to find an old copy of his book "Eat, Drink and be Merry".
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Reply to AlvaDeer
MaryKathleen Oct 8, 2019
I totally agree with you.
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When we take my 92 y/o mother with dementia out for a meal, my husband always tells her, "Eat dessert first. That's my motto."

Lives are already destroyed by dementia. Why destroy what's left of them with restricted diets for no good reason?

Best of luck as you navigate this difficult road.
Helpful Answer (16)
Reply to lealonnie1

If eating sugar makes him happy, I say let him have his sugar.

My husband was 37, the picture of health, diet conscious, exercised, etc. He felt bad a couple of days, went to the doctor. Stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Dead less than a year later. If he were alive and wanted sugar I’d go buy it for him. One never knows what the future holds. Have some pleasure while you’re able to enjoy.
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Reply to UsedupDIL
NeedHelpWithMom Oct 12, 2019
I am so sorry for the loss of your husband. Hard enough when a person has lived a long life but it is so sad that he was so young.
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My husband has early onset Alzheimer’s and was always a very healthy eater, worked out daily, non-smoker, etc. As the dementia progressed, he wanted sweets. I was told that it was a taste they still could enjoy. I went with the let him enjoy it school of thought. He did have a good appetite for regular meals and we did walk for exercise, but I figured that trip to get an ice cream cone or cake for dessert was giving him pleasure and I wanted him to have a happy life. He’s now in late stage and confined to a Broda chair or bed. Iced coffee, ice cream, and chocolate still give him pleasure and for me that’s what it’s all about. There is no happy ending with this disease, so why not do things you enjoy while you can. At least that is my philosophy.
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Reply to Franklin2011

i was told as we age we lose tastebuds That is one of the reasons many seniors want sugar because they can taste the sweetness more than regular food.
My mother 94/Dementia eats so much junk food, I don’t like it but food has become her reason for life.
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Reply to Bamagirl88
Franklin2011 Oct 12, 2019
My mother subsisted on Reese’s Peanut Butter cups her last year as we could barely get her to eat anything else. After my sister passed, she lost the will to live.
If you’re worried about his weight & him being able to maintain mobility, that’s one thing. But trying to restrict sugar just to keep him healthy? His mind is only going to get worse along with the other physical issues dementia brings. He should have some food he really enjoys. Even at hospitals & nursing homes patients get dessert with lunch & dinner everyday.

If I get dementia I sure hope someone still brings me doughnuts!
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Reply to mollymoose
gdaughter Oct 23, 2019
Well, for me it would be TimBits!!!
My mother is 94 and is now bedridden with dementia. Her diet consists mainly of "sweet stuff." That's one thing she still enjoys and she will say "that's sooo good" and has a very pleasant look on her face. She will eat some veggies too but I never get the same reaction as when she eats the sweets. I like to see her happy so if sweets do the trick that's OK with me. Best of luck to you
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Reply to Countrygal55

Stopping the sugar may not help the dementia. It probably will help keep his body healthier. You don't mention if he has a blood sugar problem. Does he have diabetes? With dementia, it might be kindest to let him enjoy himself. I've noticed that seniors often get on sugar kicks when they are declining. You could stop having sugary foods around and see if he misses them. Or switch to the sugar free foods using stevia or other sweeteners. Good luck to you and try to stay strong for both of you.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to NancyIS

One of the challenges with a sugar filled diet is the constant hunger. Not enough fiber in those foods so we are looking to fill the void.

Can you make the jello for him and add fresh fruit, nuts, shredded veggies? This would give him his sugar fix and let you know that he is getting some nutrition with it.

I would avoid artificial sweeteners, they have been proven to be neurotoxins. Any benefit of reducing sugar is cancelled out and then some.

You can use whole sugar (the kind that has all the nutrients left in it, it is dark brown and delicious), molasses, maple sugar, raw honey and fruits to sweeten things without filling up with white sugar.

I would also look at ingredients and avoid as much high fructose corn syrup as possible. It is killing our gut health and it is all gmo with a side of round up.

Be creative and get those fibers and nutrients into his sweet treats. You will see that he doesn't just eat the entire thing because he will feel more sated.

Real sugar coke with lime jello and fresh fruits and walnuts is crazy good and a well balanced meal. I know it sounds gross, but it is one of those recipes that shocks you.

You have to learn to pick your battles with dementia, no reasoning with a broken brain. Find ways to meet both of your desires. Honestly, I would not want to have a long life if I was losing my mind. Maybe he feels the same way.
Helpful Answer (9)
Reply to Isthisrealyreal
cherokeegrrl54 Oct 12, 2019
The coke wth lime jello and walnuts sounds just exactly what i would eat!! I did purchase Swerve, a sugar replacement, and even i can use that! It looks and tastes like real sugar with zero carbs! It measures like real sugar and is made from flowers and plants...
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