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Old 09-23-2012, 12:59 PM   #1
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strange food tolerances and palate

Lucy is showing some rather strange and dramatic tolerances for foods. This seems to have gotten beyond worse into the twilight zone the past few months. On more than several occassions, she complained that the dinner particularly a meat was spoiled, and refused to eat it. Son and I were eating the exact same thing at the dinner table, and we did not think there was anything wrong at all. On a couple of occassions, she complained that the food was so spoiled that she retched it up. She ran into the bathroom in mid meal, and indeed we could her her retching. Again, both Son and I thought the food tasted fine, and neither of us got sick from it. Once, because there was a lot of left over, I put it away in the fridge in a casserole dish. The next day she was hungry midday, found the food and ate it. That evening she commented how great the food was, and asked if I could make it again soon. Okay... this was the same food that she retched on the night before. Lately, she has been throwing out fruits, notably fresh mangos, strawberries, and apples by the bucketloads, claiming they were rotten. I've been preparing these for us (all 3 of us) for breakfast every morning, and I thought they were fine. On a milder side, more frequently food that she would hate one night she would find fabulous the next. Sometimes the food would be too spicey or salty, then another night she would find too bland. I honest believe that she is telling it like she is feeling. Not some strange act. Let's put it this way, if she is a whole lot younger, I'd say she is pregnant, only much worse.

What gives???? Of course, most of you know that she is in the earliest stages and I cannot get a positive diagnosis. Aside from her confabulations that I discussed in another thread, and that she can't find something that is sitting right in front of her, she seems outwardly fully functional. Even her confabs are not outlandish. No purple polka dotted blob camping in our basement yet. To an outsider not fully aware of facts, her stories are not that outlandish

. Anyone having some similar stories to relate, or some wisdom to impart?

Last edited by Luau; 09-23-2012 at 02:34 PM.

 
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Old 09-23-2012, 02:34 PM   #2
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Re: strange food tolerances and palate

I can only think of sweet food and choking problem. At her stage, she may like sweet food better so desserts only for her sometimes... But I don't know if she may have some weight issue like bulimia? For dementia, I can only think of sweet stuff. She may like food with strong flavor or even cookies. It is possible she only wants sweet stuff but does not know that. She may lose the sense of taste gradually. I think it is the brain that says go for the sweet stuff.
Try that kind of food. Maybe she would eat different food and you guys eat your regular food. Something with strong flavor now may be what she likes.
It seems too early for her to choke or anything.
Ask the doctor for opinions.

Take care,
Nina

 
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Old 09-23-2012, 02:42 PM   #3
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Re: strange food tolerances and palate

No.Choking is not a concern right now. she does have more sweet tooth. That much for sure. This "spoiled" food thing is completely new. And the changing palate. Foe example, she used to LOVE mushrooms, but now she says she can't stand the texture and they make her gag. This whole thing is weird. I have no idea what to prepare each day.

Get this. She just came out to say she has a craving and wants pizza tonight, with lots of mushrooms. When it comes time, she might love it or hate it. No way to tell in advance.

Last edited by Luau; 09-23-2012 at 02:49 PM.

 
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Old 09-23-2012, 06:21 PM   #4
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Re: strange food tolerances and palate

Luau, taste and texture is a cognitive perception. The brain is on a roller coaster of ups and downs in the early stage of any dementia. As the cognition fluctuates so does the likes and dislikes. Taste and texture. One of the last taste sensations that remains is actually bitter. That is perceived as spoiled, rotten, uneatable. It takes a lot of sweet and salty to cover up that bitter that is coming through. Mom loves collard greens but recently I have not been able to even get them in her mouth. She always hated little green peas and she was picking them up herself and eating them last time I fed her.

The word spoiled might just equate to something that taste bad to her. If she didn't like it last night but ate it at noon the next day it may relate to the late evening when cognition is not as good. She does prefer the sweet taste which fits. I wonder what she would do if the food really was spoiled? My best is that it is a word thing with the word spoiled indicating foods that she doesn't like the taste of.

There is also a visual perception that works the same way. She may look at the fruit and see variations in color and texture that indicates spoiled to her. I had the opposite problem with Dad. I don't care how black the banana was he didn't know it was spoiled. Mom went through a phase of throwing things out that were "bad" when in reality they were just fine. She never threw out cake, candy, or doughnuts

My best bet is that it all about perceived taste and textures related to cognition, visual cognition, and word substitutions.

Love, deb

 
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Old 09-24-2012, 03:38 AM   #5
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Re: strange food tolerances and palate

My mom had the same problem with not seeing something right in front of her and it was explained to me as tunnel vision. That a person with dementia only sees thriugh a narrow channel. This also can affect balance. In the food category, mom had to have raw onion everyday with everything she ate, even at breakfast. She would mix up some really weird concoctions. She also tried to feed her dog cucumber peels and such. Poor dog didn't know what was going on. The only thing is they change and you never know what to expect. I feel for you and hope you can get through this.

 
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Old 09-24-2012, 08:54 AM   #6
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Re: strange food tolerances and palate

The visual issues can cause them to not see what is slightly to the left, right, up or down, from where they are looking. If you put your hands beside your ears you can see them in your peripheral vision. Those with cognitive loss gradually lose that peripheral visions. The effect is tunnel type vision where they only see what is directly in front of them... as looking through a tube. That is why you need to approach from the front and make sure what you want them to see is directly in front of them.

Depth perception also changes. Where we see something in 3-D they see it one dimensional. If there is corn on a yellow plate we see the corn because it is three dimensional. They just see the same color with no depth so they might miss the corn totally. Imagine a room full of residents with sandwiches on white bread in a white Styrofoam box!!! It took one on one to help them all "find" their sandwiches. Now they use red liner paper in those boxes when they are necessary.

Then you have the color vision deficiencies. They actually see color differently. There is actually some current research suggesting that early visual color difference might be a way of early diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease.

A great example of the combination of all of this.... if you put a dark rug on a light floor many with cognitive decline will not step on that rug because it appears as a hole. If there is a change in flooring (wood flooring to carpet) you may see one with cognitive decline step up because it appears to be a step and not just a color change. I have seen both of these happen repeatedly. Steps may also appear flat which makes steps dangerous.

Another example of how cognitive decline affects every cognitive function... not just the memory

Love, deb

 
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Old 09-24-2012, 10:22 AM   #7
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Re: strange food tolerances and palate

I want to say how much I really appreciate the care all of you on the board are showing. Sometimes I feel I am wasting all of your time here with trivia while many of you soldier onward with loved ones who are significantly worse than what I am facing. It means a whole lot and makes me feel less alone when the very same medical profession that should be helping cannot agree there is anything wrong, when it is so clear to me.

Aras: the raw onion with every meal is indeed eyebrow raising! Deb, your thoughts regarding altered depth and colour perception, and maybe even sound perceptions may have early diagnostic utility usefulness is very thought provoking. I would love to see what develops from this.

When Lucy cannot find something is usually when something got put in front of it and blocking the view. I guess is is something akin to that tunnel vision that Aras mentioned. It doesn't seem to occur to her that to find something that you know should be there, you will sometimes need to move around for a different viewing angle or to move some other objects directly in front to expose the other objects towards the back. This happens over and over again, despite my saying that every time that she needs to move a few things around. The good news is that now I can put ice cream underneath something in the freezer and I can feel confident she won't discover it on her own! Interestingly, her memory has gotten better lately. If she sees that I have brought ice cream home, she will remember it AND and remember it AND remember it, whereas about half year ago I could trust her to forget about it a day or two later. Now she will pester me until I show her the ice cream. So the trick now is to sneak it into the freezer and put it under something before she notices. The other good development is that nowadays she will simply ask me to find something for her. Perhaps she is accepting that she has trouble finding things. Half year before this, she used to get angry and accused Son or I for misplacing things. There is a lot more tranquility in our household when she simply asks for help these days.

As for the dark rug thing, I should try it one day to see what happens.

Last edited by Luau; 09-24-2012 at 10:28 AM.

 
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Old 09-24-2012, 11:15 AM   #8
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Re: strange food tolerances and palate

What you described with Lucy finding things is spacial perception. And yes... that can also be affected. It is how we manipulate things in space. We see that 3D image and know there might be something behind it. They see flat space and just what is before their eyes. It does make it easier to hide things In there world what they see is all there is... in our world there are things stacked on things.

Dad displayed this spacial reasoning thing when packing the car for fall football games. Everything laid out side by side a single layer deep. If he ran out of flat space there was "no more room". The idea of stacking items was lost completely. If the fold out table was under the cooler... he couldn't find it in the back of the van. Anything beyond the front of the shelf in the fridge, freezer, or cabinets was non existent to mom. Throw in lack of peripheral vision and you get a very narrow search range for things. No wonder they can't find anything

I am truly beginning to believe that at least part of Lucy's problem (or at least it is made worse) by the alcohol consumption she was enjoying... combined with other dietary issues. What you have done so far may be making a very positive difference.

I have also found that my reaction to the demented behavior has a huge impact of the reactions I get back. If we can make them feel validated, safe, and understood life goes so much better. That takes us understanding their world and helping them through it rather than trying to pull them into ours (which makes NO sense to them). What you are after is not the past normality, but contentment where you are

 
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Old 09-24-2012, 01:38 PM   #9
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Re: strange food tolerances and palate

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gabriel View Post
T
Depth perception also changes. Where we see something in 3-D they see it one dimensional. If there is corn on a yellow plate we see the corn because it is three dimensional. They just see the same color with no depth so they might miss the corn totally. Imagine a room full of residents with sandwiches on white bread in a white Styrofoam box!!! It took one on one to help them all "find" their sandwiches. Now they use red liner paper in those boxes when they are necessary.

Then you have the color vision deficiencies. They actually see color differently. There is actually some current research suggesting that early visual color difference might be a way of early diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease.
Do you think these preception alterations will pose more problems in dim light or semi-darkness when there is less color information and less definition? Do you have experience in these matters? For example, Lucy has certain degree of documented impaired vision. Yet the difficulty she has in low light conditions seems far more severe than one would anticipate given the tested degree of visual impairment. Especially noticeable is when she tries to take her dogs outside in the backyard for their bedtime potty at night. She has trouble walking on the slightly off-cambered, sloped backyard. I have also noticed that she has pronounced difficulties in spotting me in the evenings if I am sitting fairly quietly in a dimly lit room, and it seems to bug her greatly that I sometimes like to sit in a room without turning on a lot of lights. A couple of weeks ago, she said she had a "panic attack" when she had to go into the back reaches of our backyard to retrieve one of her dogs who didn't want to come in after the night time potty. She reported palpitations, hyperventilating, and some vertigo. I was inside at the time. Though it was dark outside,she had a powerful flashlight and was in familiar grounds even though it was further out in the backyard than she would normally venture at night. (On the aside, yes the backyard is fully fenced in. No possibility she would get lost in the woods unless she chose to scale the fence.)

Do you think this is all part of this, or do you think it might be something different altogether?

Last edited by Luau; 09-24-2012 at 03:04 PM.

 
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Old 09-24-2012, 03:37 PM   #10
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Re: strange food tolerances and palate

Yes, it could definitely be part of it. The lack of lighting only makes it more difficult for them (and even us) to decipher what we see. If it is more difficult for us then their difficulties are compounded. Shadows can appear as strange shapes. In the dark, even with a flash light, no telling what she thought she saw.... or heard. Flashes and darkness can combine into odd appearances. I did notice that as Mom's disease progressed she began leaving more and more lights on in the house. She even bought more lighting. I could drive up at night and ever room in the house was aglow... and ALL the outside lights on as well. I also noticed she stopped going outside at night. By the time she arrived here (well into her disease)... she would stop at the door and refuse to go out after dark.

There is also some that think the shadows play a part in Sundowning. It is recommended in many (if not all) good care giver guides to keep the house well lit in the evening. We don't understand exactly what their brain is telling them but the shadows don't seem to be a good perception.

When you think about it we function in the dark on familiarity. Unfamiliar territory is a very different thing. In moments of anxiety (in the dark) they can lose even the minimal abilities they have to function on familiarity. Stuck in a strange place in the dark is frightening. A single beam of light is not sufficient to dissipate all the shadowy strangeness. Our natural response to fear... is anxiety... panic attack It is the adrenalin flowing. Flight of fight takes over. Probably why you got racked over the coals for sitting in the dark!!!

My daughter swears that she is going to worry when I turn on the den light at night. I love to sit in the darkness with the screen glows. TV and Computer... in my little cocoon of darkness

Love, deb

 
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