Follow
Share

My cousin, 62 years old, who is in Memory Care Unit, (wheelchair bound,but can feed herself.) has lost 10 pounds in the last 2 months. She has Vascular mixed with AD. Symptoms hit her fast and she has gone downhill in the last year. Complete incontinence, no real memory, (still knows me and my parents) but still verbal and can push herself with her feet in wheelchair.

Her blood sugars are excellent, so that's not it. She sees a doctor regularly and he is not alarmed. She gets regular blood tests and checkups. We have discussed palliative care for her. I can see physically that her health has declined.

I have watched her eat her meals and snacks and she always demonstrates a hearty appetite. Eating is not an issue. She chews and swallows fine. I have discussed this with the Memory Care staff. She is eating the same meals and snacks she had since her admission there 9 months ago. During that time she maintained her weight.

Is the weight loss a normal progression? I have read that at some point, the ill or dementia patient, even when consuming enough calories, will drop weight. I don't want to try to force extra food on her if it is not helpful.

This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Find Care & Housing
As people age, their bodies become less efficient in absorbing nutrients. Add a serious illness or two and this is generally a bigger problem.

I'm only guessing, but if she's eating well but still losing weight it seems as though she's not absorbing the nutrients from the food. Her doctor is the best source of information here, but one thought is that supplements that are made to be absorbed without depending on the digestive tract may help.

Good answers from every one here so read the whole thread and see if you pick up on something that may help.

Take care,
Carol
Helpful Answer (0)
Report

My, now 87 year young, mother was diagnosed several years ago with dementia. Her M.D. put her on aricept which kept it at back burner with just some forgetfulness. Then about 2 years ago she went in to full onset dementia she is now into last stages and her degression has been quick and each time she decreases it is almost overnight and of course she looses more of herself. She went from being in chair paddling along with her feet to bed ridden in a week. She has total incontinence , trouble chewing and swallowing. Even with those problems she still has a very hearty appetite and eats well. She is home with me and I have 3 other ladies that help me to c after her every need round the clock. She too has lost weight though she out two farmhands. She is always hungry as she forgets she has eaten no matter how much she eats. I was told that it is part of the disease. Especially in later stages. Comfort and giving her as good of quality life as possible is now all that I can do because as you say she can never recover. With all the tragedy and loss she has withstood in past 11 years the memory loss is all that has kept her here surviving this long. I wish you, your cousin and family all the best. I wish you all comfort and peace. It is such a hard thing to watch a loved one go thru and hard for them as well. They know things aren't right but don't know why or how to fix it. They live in total confusion. We loose the person we always knew long before they are gone then loose them many more times as they degrees each stage. Luck and best wishes, Daphne
Helpful Answer (9)
Report

My MIL had vascular dementia. What you are describing is exactly how her weight loss occurred. As she had gotten older she had put on a good deal of weight. While still eating really well, weight began to just fall off her. Her digestive system was failing. She had anasognosia - was totally unaware that she had dementia, and was thrilled with the weight loss. Your description sounds so much like my MIL, even with the feet propelled wheelchair. MIL never did lose speech. Just months before she passed she developed the swallowing issues as internal failures continued. Impacted bowels also began to be a problem.
Helpful Answer (7)
Report

I appreciate your response. I usually see her eat meals at least once per week. Other times, it's for snacks. I have also talked with the staff and they confirm she always eats well. It's not a very large place, so it's not that difficult to note if she's not eating. Their dining room has about 20 people and some of them receive assistance.

At this point, it's palliative care that I think is appropriate. That's the route she took with her mom and we had discussed it many times before she became ill. We are not doing cancer screenings and my primary goal is to keep her comfortable. Besides, if the dementia is causing her to lose, because that's just the progression of the disease, then we will accept it. I know that she cannot recover from this.
Helpful Answer (6)
Report

I have experienced rapid weight loss with two of my dementia clients. It seems to happen almost overnight. Now I weigh my clients weekly and track their weight so I can see changes more clearly. A digital scale with large numbers will make this task easier. I think it is easy to over estimate how many calories someone is eating , unless keep track of them rigorously.
You might try the red dishes routine, as suggested by the Alzheimer's Reading Room blog. I am not convinced that red dishes work for everyone. Find really cheap red china and transfer her food onto it. See if she eats more.
The previous commenters are so right. You need to rule out a medical cause. Perhaps you need a second opinion.
Helpful Answer (6)
Report

My Mom is going through the same thing with her disease as well. I left the corporate world to care for her - (she also has caregivers come who help me) I know what she eats and how much. She eats 5/6 times a day - I too think it is just part of the disease - would I treat her at 84 if it wasn't "no" - I am just letting nature takes its course - she has had dementia/Alzheimer's now for 9 year's. All of her blood work is "normal" as well - good luck to all.
Helpful Answer (5)
Report

My mom is currently losing weight although she continues to eat at least 3 meals a day. We have an appointment with a GI next month to see if he can find a cause, however your case sounds very similar to my mom.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

My Mom has also begun to lose weight, she eats well with help. I'm having a hard time getting her to drink enough not sure why that is, her Dr. is also not concerned. I have always been told it is part of the process but I also worry about it.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Normal progression or not, weight loss can be a part of a neurological disorder. My spouse has Progressive Supranuclear Palsy—said to "mimic" Parkinson's and dementia—and went from over 180 pounds to under 140 in a couple of years despite eating quite a lot of food, especially at dinner time. His neurologist says it is part of the disease and that extra protein might help. Bill is now in assisted living and I keep his mini-fridge stocked with protein shakes and cheese sticks. He also has a supply of granola bars.
Helpful Answer (3)
Report

Aside from losing muscle mass from inactivity if she eats enough she shouldn't lose weight.
How often are you there at mealtime? How certain are you that the staff is really paying attention to her dietary intake? Some places will note that someone was at the table at mealtime, but not necessarily keep track of whether or not they actually eat.
If there is something else causing the weight loss it sounds like you would not be willing to treat it at this point? Either way it can't hurt to try adding some supplements like boost/ensure if she will take them.
Helpful Answer (2)
Report

See All Answers
This question has been closed for answers. Ask a New Question.
Subscribe to
Our Newsletter