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Are constant food complaints common to Alzheimer's?

Mom eats but complains. What can I do to encourage her to eat? She is a mild/moderate alzheimer's patient and lives in a lovely assisted living arrangement, no longer can taste/smell and frequently complains about breakfast meals being cold. She claims to despise eating lunch/dinner there but we think it may be a sham on her part. The facility does document if a patient eats in the dining room, gets a tray to his/her room, refuses or goes out with family, so we know she is eating.

My brother says just buy her what she wants. Think because her preference is now towards deli and cold items, she may no longer know how to use the microwave anymore. She has been on Excelon for two years and recently Namenda was added to her med regime. Feel it has increased her appetite and she gained two pounds in two months.

Is it an attention grabbing behavior or common to the disease?
Status: Open    Mar 28, 2016 - 08:24 AM

Senior Health & Nutrition, Dementia

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Expert Answers

Mar 28, 2016 - 11:44 AM

Food complaints and loss of appetite are very common with alzheimer's patients, as medication and other factors can affect smells and taste of a patient. Please check out the website below with a link to the alzheimer's association with helpful information. It might also be advised to check with your mother's doctor to see if anything should be changed with the medication for your mother. Also it is suggested that patients remain active, which can increase a healthy appetitite.


Apr 28, 2016 - 11:38 AM

Another common problem with eating in alzheimers is the fact that they lose their sense of taste. Many times they will only want very salty or very sweet foods This is because these flavors are strong and they can actually "taste" them. I usually recommend trying foods with strong flavor such as (lots) of lemon on chicken, strong herbs in pasta, meats, etc, spices or stong mrs dash (if on cardiac diet). Anything with strong flavor to stimulate taste buds.

Another common problem with eatting is that it is common to lose a sense a sight - place food on contrasting colored plates or bright colors. White potatoes on a white plate does not seem very appetizing - eating is a multisensory experience - try to stimulate the senses!

best of luck
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