Home > Eating Disorders & the Elderly > Eating Disorders and Dementia.

Eating Disorders and Dementia.

By: Jo Johnson - Updated: 8 Jun 2010 | comments*Discuss
 
Dementia Alzheimer's Eating Disorder

Eating disorders do not solely occur in those who want to lose weight or have distorted body image as they can just as easily occur in the elderly especially those who have dementia.

Not only might the dementia cause them to forget to eat, but they may not be able to make their own meals, do their shopping or safely prepare a meal and these reasons are often overlooked, even by caring family members as they do not realise that this is a problem.

Noticing When an Eating Disorder May be Developing

When someone is first diagnosed with an illness such as dementia it can be very easy to spend most of the time worrying about their physical health, mental well-being and their safety; often the person’s basic needs are overlooked. Issues such as hygiene and nutrition are not commonly on the top of the list of concerns and in actual fact these are often the most important. Noticing when they might be an issue is extremely important in preventing long term health problems relating to poor nutrition.

Ask yourself questions such as has the person’s kitchen been used recently? Have they lost any weight without intention in recent weeks? Is there any food in the cupboards? Have they mentioned going shopping or feeling hungry lately? They may seem like basic questions but they are extremely relevant and may reveal a developing problem.

Obviously, as with any mental health issue, it is important not to take each answer for its face value, and observation or digging a little deeper can reveal some very worthy information; it may take extra time, but in the long term, many other problems can be prevented. If you have established that a problem may exist, speak to your GP, relevant healthcare professional or Social Services for advice on how to combat the problem, alternatively find ways of preventing the problem yourself if possible.

Helping Those Who Need Assistance

It might be easy to assume that the person looking after someone with dementia should prepare all the meals for them, serve them and sit with them whilst they have their meal, but in the early stages this may not be what the person with dementia would want.Instead it may be far more productive to help them plan their shopping, take them to the shops and provide assistance when preparing the meal.

It may be something as simple as making sure that the person turns the oven on and off or helping them write a plan for the week’s meals. The person may be very capable in the initial stages of the illness in cooking the food and eating it and will not be particularly grateful if someone else interferes with their routine, especially if they are otherwise independent. It may be more helpful to provide them with the tools they need to make sure they eat properly rather than actually doing it for them.

Obviously as the illness progresses they are likely to need more help and it is at this time it may be beneficial to invite them over for a meal or arrange adequate assistance such as meals on wheels if needed. This can be expensive so make sure you are aware of entitlements regarding funding of these services.

Dementia and other similar illnesses can develop very slowly in some cases and it is often the fundamental elements of living that are neglected first. Those around should be able to notice or express concern and intervene when these issues become apparent and find help when necessary.

You might also like...
Share Your Story, Join the Discussion or Seek Advice..
Why not be the first to leave a comment for discussion, ask for advice or share your story...

If you'd like to ask a question one of our experts (workload permitting) or a helpful reader hopefully can help you... We also love comments and interesting stories

Title:
(never shown)
Firstname:
(never shown)
Surname:
(never shown)
Email:
(never shown)
Nickname:
(shown)
Comment:
Validate:
Enter word:
Latest Comments
  • dk99
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I've been having an addiction to washing powder since I was 3, and now I'm 21. Tide and Gain taste so good, it's like I'm on a high, but my throat…
    5 February 2019
  • Jaggas
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I eat everything. Walls, ceilings, skirting boards... my whole house has gone. I’ve got nothing left. Do I have a problem? Help
    4 February 2019
  • SkinnyRose
    Re: Causes for Eating Disorders in Older People
    I am 69, have difficulty eating for a number of reasons - dental problems, lack of motivation, difficulty…
    23 January 2019
  • Chapis
    Re: Pica Disorder
    When I was younger I use to chew on paper towels and after I would eat a cupcake I would chew on the paper it would taste delicious to me and did that…
    21 January 2019
  • Lola
    Re: Eating by Texture
    I hate slimy foods like over cooked tomatoes and onions or foods like rice when the rice has hard bits into them it makes me gag also over…
    17 January 2019
  • Landi
    Re: Eating by Texture
    I will be 37 in July... Since the age of 3 I've never eaten veggies or meat. It's affected my life and health in a massive way. My problem is…
    12 January 2019
  • Selena
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I been eating towel since god knows when like my mum kind of knows cause I pull the string out of the towels and chew them iv made like a hundred…
    10 January 2019
  • Tapping
    Re: Binge Eating Disorder
    Hi, I want to heal from my binge eating disorder as it has claimed so much of my life. I can only do online due to me living very…
    1 December 2018
  • Ruby
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I chew the paper towel cardboard holder, I don't swallow it I just chew until I can't anymore. Lately I've been having some really bad stomach pain…
    30 November 2018
  • Jazzy
    Re: Pica Disorder
    I've been eating ashes none stop Half my pregnancy I can't stop even thou I try to avoid it I crave all day when my dude buy black milds I smoke them…
    30 November 2018