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Wow! I had a weird incident with my dad who is going to be 90 in May. Tonight, I was going to have my birthday carrot cake with sugary icing and coconuts. Please note that I can’t feed myself because I’m disabled. Dad has moderate dementia. So, Dad cut a small cake for himself while I’d get the big piece. Mind you that, I saw him cutting the cake in front of me. He placed my plate of cake on the table. Then, when he was using his walker, he went to the kitchen; with his plate of cake, to get me some Starbucks mocha to drink. When he came back with the glass of mocha, his plate was gone. While he was feeding me, he asked me if he could have a piece of my cake. I quickly asked him, where his plate of cake. He told me that he did not have any! I flipped out. I asked him if he left it in the kitchen. He said no. I kept telling him that he cut a small portion of the cake. He stated that he could not remember eating his cake! I felt like I was going insane until I went to see the kitchen sink and saw the small empty plate with carrot cake crumbs.


My question is can sugar exacerbate his memory loss??? This whole situation is despairing and frustrating for both of us!

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Madtoe, your father was doing at least three things at once: fetching your mocha, using his walker, and carrying his piece of cake. I mean, if I had a dollar for every time I've gone into the kitchen to get one thing, come back with another, and forgotten what I wanted in the first place... I'd be a very rich woman indeed. And your father already has moderate dementia! I'm impressed that he came back with the coffee successfully.

There is all kinds of research going on into gut-brain connections and the effects of various foods and other factors, and the whole subject is very imperfectly understood.

But if you're worrying that a small helping of carrot cake with a little bit of icing on it, in the time it took your father to go to the kitchen and come back again, could cause a step down in his dementia... No. Let your dad have the cake if he'd like it. And I hope you enjoyed the big piece, too - happy birthday!
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Sugar causes behavior issues with my mom. The more sweets she has the more she wants and the worse the behaviors get.

Dad has dementia. He REALLY does not remember having the carrot cake. You cannot convince dementia of anything. It sounds like his dementia has progressed to the point that you both will require more care.
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Madtoe, I think you can relax about the piece of cake your dad ate. While there is all kinds of speculation about possible links between food and behavior, there really are no conclusive studies that have proven any connection to sugar and dementia.

After she developed dementia my mother never remembered eating -- whether the food was sugary or not. This was a typical conversation when we visited the nursing home right after breakfast:
"How was breakfast today, Mom?"
"I don't think I've had it yet."
"hmm. Well, there are used dishes in front of you. It would seem you ate. Are you still hungry?"
"Yes."
"I'll ask the kitchen to do a piece of toast for you."

Forgetting about eating something is VERY common in dementia. If this is the first time your father has done that it would be very surprising to you, perhaps even shocking, but it is quite common. In some cases it can lead to obsessive overeating, but usually it does not present problems. If it had been a plate of celery and carrot sticks he had forgotten eating that would not mean that eating vegetables caused a sudden severe memory loss. That it happened with cake is just a coincidence. At 90 your dad should be eating anything that makes him happy. And he very well may not remember that he ate it.

It sounds like you have a mutually beneficial caring situation. Have you made plans for your care and his when his dementia progresses? And it will progress. That is the one thing universally true of dementia -- it gets worse. The forgetfulness about eating may be a sign of progression now. It really would be very helpful to make plans now than to suddenly have to face a crisis.

So, relax about Dad eating some treats. But if you haven't made some plans for a new care arrangement when the time comes, that would be worthy of your attention.
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We take care of each other. He does not want to stop helping me. Anyway, my question is does sugar exacerbate the memory loss?
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Sheba, we are all caregivers. When new at this it is very difficult. Because we have been on those shoes sometimes our answers may seem harsh. Often times there is denial by the caregiver of how sick and difficult our loved one will become. To determine appropriate care requires planning, lots of it, with consideration for the worst case possible. 

On dementia there is a school of thought that sugar is a major factor in it developing. Some are referring to it as Diabetes Type 3.
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I'm curious as to what loving family members think they will gain by curtailing their loved one's diet to a strict health plan? Sure, I get it for people who are in their 20's-60's, but, when you are in your 70's and up, haven't your eating habits already effected your body to an extent that a diet is not really going to change much?

Granted, cookies for 3 meals a day might be a stretch, but, why a restricted diet for a senior who has limited time? I don't get it. Especially, if they are terminally ill, like with dementia, or some other illness. I think that quality of life matters too.

My LO's doctor says that with severe dementia, she would enjoy any food that she likes. I try to treat her whenever possible. I can't remove her from End stage dementia, so why would I restrict her from eating foods she enjoys. Maybe, I'm missing something.
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Maybe caring for you has him a little burned out. Consider other options, for his sake. No ninety year old should have to care for someone.
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it's a shame and I pray for all of you. I also have a question and now I am scared to ask after seeing what is posted. I thought this was supposed to help each other.
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Madtoe the simple answer to your question seems to be "No" but other experienced and knowledgeable caregivers recognized there were more problems at work here than Dad simply forgetting he had eaten his cake in the kitchen.
You have received a lot of good advise and suggestions all of which I totally agree with so please don't be offended that others were more concerned with your whole situation than your specific question. I am amazed that Dad can do what he can when he has to use a walker.
I will leave you with this thought. "What happens when Dad falls and breaks a hip or even an arm"?
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Sunnygirl1. I totally agree with you. Totally. Why make people who are in their last stages of life, in an assisted living or nursing home eat "healthy" foods if they don't like them? What is the reason? Is it so they can live longer in a nursing home? Why? I hope my kids don't do that to me.
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