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My 85 year old mother has lived with my husband and I the past 3 years. I have never seen an elderly person with this kind of appetite. She does have vascular dementia but unsure it would cause this. If I didn't monitor what she was eating, I think she would eat all day. To make matters worse, she doesn't have any teeth. When she moved in she had ill fitting dentures that she wasn't able to wear. We had a new set of dentures made and they do not fit properly either because she has too much bone loss.
All she likes to eat is junk. She thinks eating 3 or 4 hot dogs at a time is normal ?? She can eat half of a large pan pizza by herself. It's a chore to feed her. Drives me nuts !
However, I realize it would be bad if she didn't eat.
Can't win!

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Last time we took my 94 y/o mother out to eat, she ate 1/2 a pizza, 1/2 a loaf of garlic bread, a full order of fettucini alfredo, a side salad and a tiramisu dessert. I kid you not. She has the appetite of a truck driver and always has. She spent her life on a diet, and micromanaging what she and everyone else ate, and in her old age, threw all caution to the wind & now eats everything that isn't nailed down. If she had a hammer in her room at the Memory Care, she'd probably use the back end of it to pry off food that WAS nailed down so she could eat IT, too. The food she can pack away in one sitting is mind boggling. She's pushing 200 lbs now and also has dementia, which hasn't touched her appetite at all. The only thing it's done is to make her complain non-stop about how 'horrrrrribleeeeeee' the food is at the Memory Care ALF, yet she's constantly eating it and gaining weight on a regular basis. Go figure.

With dementia, there IS no 'normal' anymore. So just ignore what your mother is doing and let her be, that's my suggestion. Why try to prolong her life, at 85 with dementia? Even with diabetes and obesity at play, she's better off living life on her terms than living longer with restrictions in force and with the misery of worsening dementia at play, in my opinion. If I get dx'ed with dementia, there is no way I'm doing ANYTHING to prolong my life!!!!!!!!!!!!
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LoopyLoo Jun 10, 2021
I wonder if dementia turns off or affects the “I’m full” mechanism of the brain? I’ve read here about elders forgetting they’ve eaten, but this sounds lien they just don’t get the feeling of fullness.
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That is an unusual problem for sure, as most elderly folks don't typically eat that much. Things that make you go hmmm.......
I guess just be grateful that she still has a good appetite, and seems to enjoy eating, and the fact that it's mostly "junk" food is ok too, as someone with vascular dementia's life expectancy is not long, so let her enjoy it while she can. Best wishes.
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LoveScrabble Jun 7, 2021
Thank you for your reply. I try to find "moderation" with her sweet tooth because of type 2 diabetes but definitely do not eliminate all sweets :)
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My 99-yr old aunt went through a phase in her dementia where she ate like a horse. Jaw-dropping. Thankfully she was always thin. We believe she didn't remember that she just ate plus dementia messes with all your body systems so that maybe your mom no longer interprets her body signals correctly (like satiation, hunger). But it is a phase. Now she eats "normal" amounts of food (yet probably still more than the average 99-yr old). She is in a phase now where she wants the same dinner every single night (Campbell's Chicken and Rice soup with an egg cooked in it) and she just lauds it every single night. Then when I stayed with her for a visit and was cooking, she wanted what we were eating. Her sister (my other aunt) said, "She'll never eat that" but guess what, she did and now eats it as long as she gets to choose it herself. I'm sure this phase won't last either but who knows when it will change. She is missing 50% of her teeth. If you are feeding your mom then you can control what and how much she eats. You don't have to give it to her just because she insists. Maybe try to find foods that take longer to eat, like Peanut butter, or cut her food into smaller pieces. Good luck with this adventure!
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LoveScrabble Jun 7, 2021
Thank you, I appreciate your input !
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Does it really matter at this point? You donot say that there is an obesity problem (which could lead to type II diabetes and etc. Let her eat as she pleases would get my vote. However, you are correct. She is more on the rare side of things as this usually goes.
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LoveScrabble Jun 7, 2021
Thanks for replying. You are correct, I did omit she is a type 2 diabetic and obese.
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Could it be her medication? Hospice put my mother on a very powerful steroid that made her crave junk food (and only junk food) constantly. She was thin her entire life and never really cared about food or ate much, until now.
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LoopyLoo Jun 10, 2021
I had to take prednisone for a week and having never taken a steroid medication before, thought maybe I’d have a little more energy or something. I wish! Instead I was tired and CONSTANTLY hungry! Not even in an “yeah I could eat” way but growling stomach, hangry way. Thank God it was only for a week. I would have gained like 50 lbs in a month!
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The part of her brain that tells her " stomach full" is not working well. Meanwhile the part of her brain that encourages her to eat is working without any brakes.

Also, the part of her brain that deals with impulse control is not working correctly. Her caregiver will need to be the one to help her control her impulses.

Let her neurologist know about these new symptoms - it could be worsening disease or a new issue.

Also, do your best to help your mother with her meals: put food on everybody's plate and make sure pans and bowls of food stay off the dining room table. If she is prone to helping herself to snacks, you may need to lock those up as well.
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Maybe she is eating out of boredom.
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LoveScrabble Jun 13, 2021
I have thought of that also. Thanks for your reply !
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Certain dementia medications have increased appetite as a side effect. Check her meds.
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I was part of a support group for FTD and there was a mom who help take care of her daughter during the week when the daughter's husband went to work. The daughter was in her early 40s at the time with little kids. The daughter would eat non stop to the point they had to lock the food up. When they would go to a family get together for the holidays ect the family would do things in stages. Food was not put out until after the daughter left who's ever house they were at. From the responses made here it sounds like this is more common then we are aware of. Try to have health items for your mom to snack on.
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It wouldn't surprise me that dementia was behind her "appetite" at all. Some have mentioned checking medications, but my mother never took anything other than her usual BP meds (same stuff for decades) and antibiotics a few times for UTI. Only once during UTI induced sun-downing did she take anti-anxiety, and then only until UTI was cleared, less than a week. It could be what part of the brain is affected, could be the body no longer signals it's full, could be a need to chew on things, who knows?

My mother wasn't prone to over eating really - her downfall was the ice cream bars for dessert - gained 20#s she did NOT need. However, there were times when she would eat more than usual. The staff told me how she'd eaten breakfast, and apparently someone else was eating a later breakfast (they didn't force people to get up or eat during the "usual" times), so mom insisted SHE had to have breakfast. When they told her she already ate, she said nope and she got a second breakfast! So, it does happen.

Since you also say your mom has diabetes and is overweight, try to leave out snacks that might be less unhealthy. Would she eat carrots, celery with PB, cut up fruit? Of course she can still have a "treat" occasionally, but if you can get her to scarf down raw veggies and the like, it could satisfy her need to munch, but not impact her health as much. Sure, all 3 conditions will shorten her life, but why compound it with unhealthy stuff if you can get her to snack on better stuff between meals?
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