How do you get an Alzheimer's person to lose some weight?

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Mom is 83. in an independent living community. There are no special diets. she has free will to eat what and when she pleases. and she's gained a lot of weight. i'd say maybe 25 lbs this past yr. how do in coax her into eating better? we go to the grocery store, she buys fruit, but then doesn't eat it. I wind up throwing a lot of her food out. she argues with me about what she wants to buy. if I buy it and take it to her, she still wont eat it. loves her sweets. snack foods.. they have coffee and donuts in a bistro every morning. that's where i'll find her. and plates of donuts brought back to her room. not too big on the walking or exercising. i'm lost...

Answers 1 to 10 of 19
This is a hard question because we can't control what they do. Even when we live with them it is hard to control things without making both them and ourselves miserable. The things you can do are what you are already doing -- providing healthy alternatives. The other thing that may work is to let her know she is getting too heavy and soon her clothes might not fit. It would also make it harder for her to walk. I don't know how far along in the disease she is, but truth kindly said is often the best way.
thanks, JessieBelle.. the other problem is she still sees herself as an x large.. I've bought her 2-3x clothes because I don't want her to feel bad about comments some might make. she knows shes getting bigger... and walking is a real problem. she has a walker with the seat on it(?).. and she gets around good with that.. also winded real fast. she's had a heart attack 3 yrs ago and 2 stents, even her heart dr. cant make her change. she will agree with what you say, but still do as she pleases. ornery ole lady:)
Use the rollator as much as you can, even for short walks. Create destinations - visit others within the facility, so that the walks don't seem long and without purpose and the interim destinations are encouraging and give her a motive for walking.

Can you interest her in activities, which would require walking at least a little bit?

This might not work, but you can try one of the small exercise bikes that are really just a set of pedals. My father uses one while he's sitting down. It works the lower and upper legs. She could work out her legs and strengthen them while she's watching tv or visiting others in the complex.

I'm wondering about her breathing. Other than lack of exercise and some excess weight, are there any respiratory issues to be addressed? Would she use an incentive spirometer if you got one for her?
Another thought - are there exercise classes in the IL facility, and if not, could you speak to one of the admins to see about starting some. If exercise is combined with socialization, before the bistro visit, it might encourage her to go.

The ALZ might be a complicating factor in any weight loss attempt though, so you might have to think of ways you can sneak in the exercise as a function of some pleasurable social event.
thanks GardenArtist... she wont get involved with any thing other than bingo and puzzles.. I've tried to get her into the exercise classes many times...I take her "shopping" a lot.. just to get her walking around. but I cant do that all the time.. we go places where she has to walk... but not helping much I guess. I think her breathing is because of the weight and inactivity. I also have my issues which prohibit me from doing a lot with her. walking is also an issue for me. not like her, but I can only go so much... we go to the casino and she walks, to the park in the summer,,, but not so much during the cold months. too hard on her. she's had pneumonia several time..
Top Answer
pd, I think the most important thing is to know that we can't control what they do. We can toss the ball their way, but they're the ones that have to pick it up and run (or walk slowly) with it. We can't spend too much of our time trying to get them to engage. That wouldn't be fair to us and would probably make them feel miserable. They would probably just see it as nagging.

Sometimes it is best to let them lives their lives in the way they choose, and hope for the best.
I do worry about the 2-3X, though. I know it makes it tough on her back and legs. I do understand your concern, but know there's only so much you can do.
I think that it might not be realistic to expect an Alzheimer's patient to exercise good judgment and self control. It's not something they are likely to be able to do. That's even difficult for people who don't have brain damage. Plus, she may be forgetting what she has just eaten, so cutting back, will be not be likely.

How advanced is her condition? As she progresses, it's likely she will need more supervised assistance. At that time, the meals and snacks will become standard and maybe, she'll lose weight then. Also, I've noticed that a lot of people with dementia tend to lose weight. I'm not sure why.
sunnygirl, you're right. My mother was about 180 lb when I came here. She's less than 160 lb now. She has gone from 2X to 16W in dress size. I don't know why the weight loss happened. It may be a normal thing for older people.
I think they forget to eat sometimes. but mom is mostly due to inactivity. she sleeps a lot. and not eating good when she does eat.. but like its been said. I can only do so much. I agree she's going to need more care,, soon i'm thinking.. its just so hard when you see someone you love, who was a very intelligent person, very active, get to this state. heartbreaking really.

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