My mom has diabetes and dementia. I monitor her blood sugar close, but she is constantly starving. What's that all about? - AgingCare.com

My mom has diabetes and dementia. I monitor her blood sugar close, but she is constantly starving. What's that all about?

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My mom is insulin dependent , diabetic with dementia I monitor her blood sugar constantly, all she wants to do is eat , asks for food 5 min, after dinner, snacks constantly and because of dementia says she cant remember eating anything. But she claims she starving. and at this point I have run out of free food snacks and she sick of "healthy food " and she gets fussy about it. Whats this all about?

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I don't know if this helps, but....I used to feel hungry all the time, even after I ate! This improved went I started SSRI antidepressants. Serotonin helps stop urges (eating, sleep, sex are effected, among other areas). I have type II diabetes now, and peanut butter seems to setting things down for me. Maybe a small amount of peanut butter with celery where she works to put them together might help her not feel so hungry. Also, I have sugar free yogurt, so I can eat that as a snack. If you give string cheese, chop it into little bits to use more time to eat. Blueberries are good finger foods. Also for me and for my Dad, keep water nearby, flavored with sugar free drops. Many times thirst is misread as hunger. Good luck.
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I'm with Jeanne in thinking that maybe the area of your mother's brain that triggers a "hunger" signal may not be regulating well...possibly as a result of the progression of her dementia. There's an area of the brain that's acts like a thermostat, signaling "hunger/no hunger/full". Many people with dementia lose the hunger "signal" from their brain and will stop eating because they have no physical sense of being hungry. For some people, however, the part of the brain that has to do with signaling "hunger" seems to go in the opposite direction. The signal gets "stuck" on the feeling of "hunger" and doesn't ever turn "off" to so that someone has the feeling of "satisfaction"...."satiation" ......being "full". I know this doesn't provide you with any "solutions", but it might help you to better understand what's going on for her. Unfortunately SHE isn't capable of understanding it.
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I spelled exenatide wrong in my last post, sorry - I don't want anyone to go in to their doc asking for Exent-aide!

And another random thought...My Mom would seem more satisfied after getting a piece or two of sugar-free chocolate - unfortunately still high fat and not "good for you" but the Weight Watcher or other lower fat chocolates that may be healthier if you are not diabetic would send her blood sugar way up. Also I just got a cool book on a diet that addresses insulin resistance - apparently if you keep carbs to no more than about 30 grams per 2 hrs and always pair it with at least half an ounce of protein (small handful of nuts or a half a mozzarella cheese stick (UNfried of course) it will help with the appetite too.
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I think it is probably the dementia as others have said....perhaps she just doesn't remember eating anything. My mom will do that too, she has type I diabetes, is on both glyburide and metformin. When she first came to live with me her eating habits were horrible, she ate nothing but sweet snacks all the time. I took her off all that junk and put her on healthier snacks. I don't leave anything sweet just lying around because she will eat it and then not remember eating any she will go back again and again. I give her "treats" every now and then and she really enjoys those. I keep the other snacks available to her to nibble on throughout the day since every thing I have ever read about diabetes is that it is better for them to have many smaller "meals" during the day, say every two hours. It's difficult enough dealing with the diabetes but when you add in the dementia it definitely takes it to another level. Praying for you...may you find a routine that works for you and your mom.
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My mom had this too, she used to sneak sugar packets constantly; insulin (alone) plus insulin resistance does this to you when you have type II diabetes. My grandmother had the same thing, even before she had dementia - she said it was awful, she was never not hungry - she'd eat and leave the table hungry. Its like the nutrition can never get in to your cells so you feel starved and without energy; for my mom, when she had dementia, she would just assume she had low blood sugar and eat some without even testing because it would actually at least temporarly make her feel a little better. She could NOT grasp the idea that high blood sugar could feel to her just like low. Her hemoglobin A1cs were awful. We finally found something besides just insulin for her that she could tolerate and then she was not so insanely hungry all the time. For her it was Januvia. For others, metformin or pioglitazone might work, or maybe even something like exentaide injections - but Mom did not tolerate the other oral agents.

One theory is that more protein and fiber can help with this, but if there is no possibility of trying medication that reduces insulin resistance it is very, very hard to deal with.
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I am a diabetic myself and it might be that she feels hungry. I often feel hungry even after meals and you need to understand that different foods may have different effects plus checking blood sugar levels does not tell you the exact levels for the moment you test. What you are getting results for was what levels were half an hour earlier-it takes time for the blood to reflect current levels. Be careful. Levels can look normal during a test even while taking a steep dive and she may feel hungry, then nauseated, cold, and then pass out.
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My mother-in-law had dementia and my mom has it. My mother-in-law was always claiming we hadn't fed her. She couldn't walk very far and spent a lot of time in bed. Thank goodness she was content with a small snack. I would give her a small container of pudding or canned fruit. My mom is mobile and can get her own food and she is always eating. My sister will here noises in the kitchen at all hours of the night and go see what she is doing. She is usually fixing herself a bowl of cereal because she thinks it's morning. Sometimes she convinces my father it's morning and gets him to come out and sit at the table. He is 94 and is having memory issues. If there is a container of cookies on the table, she'll take one and eat it every few minutes. When you tell her she just had one she says she didn't and will eat the whole container if you don't remove it and put it out of sight. She's also always asking when they're going home. They had to put alarms on the doors to keep her from leaving the house to go "home". They have lived in that house for over 50 years. Neither of them had diabetes so that does complicate things. Like someone else said talk to her doctor. Ask about using Glucerna snack bars and shakes. They're made specifically for diabetics so they don't cause the blood sugar to go way up. You might think about adult day care for a few hours a day or a few days all day to get a break.
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If it's the dementia causing this, as Jeanne suggests, how about making a big chart , tape it up where she can see, and put a mark each time she eats plus time. When she complains about hunger, refer to the chart and show her how many times she's eaten. Now, of course, this might not work; but is it worth a try? BTW, Jeanne, I always love your comments. What a caring person you are!! Big hugs to both of you!! Corinne
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I think it is about dementia. Her brain is just not interpreting hunger signals correctly.

What is her weight like? Could she afford to gain a little weight? If so, maybe you could give her food more often, and adjust the insulin accordingly. Discuss it with the doctor who treats her diabetes. But even if she could afford a little weight gain, there are limits to how much she could eat -- certainly not continuously all day.

Maybe you could feed her less at meals, and give her the portion that you hold back a little bit later. Maybe she would be happier with 3 meals 1/3 the size of a regular meal. (With adjustments to her insulin, of course.)

Other than adjusting amounts and timings of her meals, I guess you'll have to hope that redirecting her can work some.

Don't try to convince her that she just ate. I'm sure you've discovered that doesn't work. :(

Poor Mom. And poor you. Ain't dementia the pits?
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