Dementia: Loss of appetite is a lesser-known symptom of this serious condition

Changes in food habits, and appetite can be an indication of this serious degenerative disease.

Dementia: Changes in food habits is a lesser-known symptom of this serious condition
© Nes
Dementia: Changes in food habits is a lesser-known symptom of this serious condition

Dementia is an 'umbrella term' that describes a group of symptoms that leads to a decline in one's mental faculties affecting memory, thinking and social abilities. Scientists have not been able to find a cure for this serious condition or determine what causes dementia.

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Studies have suggested that certain low-paying jobs can increase risk of dementia, while in another case, a different study suggested that it could be caused by the air we breath. Even though some of us might recognise the most common early sign of dementia, there are other lesser known signs of dementia that we should be aware of.

As reported by The Sun and Express, changes in appetite and food-habits could be a telling indicator of dementia. This could be due to changes in taste but also as a result of the degenerative nature of the disease itself.

Changes in taste and smell of food due to Dementia

As per the NHS, some symptoms of dementia include issues with memory, communication, mobility as well as behavioural problems. Along with this, loss of appetite and significant weight loss also can be observed in dementia patients.

Dominique St Clair Miller, Speech and Language Therapist Director at Cygnet Health Care, told Express,

The changes that a person experiences as a result of dementia can impact eating and drinking habits in a number of ways.
While changes in appetite or food preferences are not uncommon among the general population in older age, individuals with dementia may also experience additional barriers to eating and drinking

In fact, as per NHS, many people face difficulty in chewing and swallowing food in advanced stages of dementia. This is especially worrying since dementia patient need to consume a well-balanced diet in order to manage the disease.

Loss of appetite and significant weight loss has been observed in dementia patients Karolina Grabowska

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Difficulty in chewing and swallowing food

These 'barriers' to eating include dysphagia, which is the terms for difficulty in chewing or swallowing, which couldlead to a host of related issues such as malnutrition, choking, chest infections and other problems. The expert continues saying,

Dysphagia (swallowing difficulties) can occur with dementia and make it difficult for an individual to effectively and safely swallow food and fluids; left unmanaged, dysphagia can lead to malnutrition, dehydration, life-threatening chest infections and increased risk of choking

This is where families of the patient need to be aware of any signs of dysphagia, and enlist the help of occupational therapists, who can help dementia patient through suggesting strategies to make their food and drink intake easier.

Read more:

Dementia: These are the warning signs you experience when you wake up

Sources used:

NHS: 'Dementia'

Express: '75-year-old's dementia caused a 'significant' shift in food preferences within '3 months''

The Sun: 'The little-known symptom of dementia you can spot while eating dinner'

Craving these foods could be a sign of this serious brain condition Craving these foods could be a sign of this serious brain condition