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Weight loss - medical reason?

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Old 11-13-2008, 02:08 AM   #1
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Weight loss - medical reason?

DH is continuing to slowly lose weight, despite eating well. He did get a sweet tooth as his illness progressed (he's now in yr 7, and is severely disabled but still home although in day care or with a caregiver during the day when I work). He'll eat anything that we put in front of him with apparent enjoyment, even foods that he didn't like before he was ill. He appears to prefer to use a spoon, having trouble with a fork now. We feed him well-balanced meals plus lots of sweets, milkshakes, etc., and he'll eat anything! The weight keeps dropping off. I looked at Ensure, but it doesn't really offer that many more calories for the extra money. He's weighed every month at the day-care center as part of its medical monitoring program, and has now lost 25 pounds.

I spoke to our family physician, who said that he probably fidgits a lot and is burning calories while walking in circles. Since I spoke to him, I've been watching DH to see how much fidgiting he actually is doing. I found that he really doesn't move around that much more than he used to do, especially when factoring in the 10+ hours that he now sleeps and naps.

Has anyone else struggled with a loved one's weight loss,
for no apparent reason? I'm wondering if processing food could somehow be connected to a damaged brain function. Did you just push calories and food on your patient to try to keep their weight up? DH's weight is not yet unhealthy, but he definitely is starting to look thin/fragile compared to his former healthy appearance. I'm worried that if he becomes ill, he won't have any reserves (aside from needing to keep buying new clothes for him!).

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Old 11-13-2008, 05:13 AM   #2
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Re: Weight loss - medical reason?

Yes, my mother stopped processing food when she was in the last stage of Dementia. She also lost her appetite and had difficulty swallowing, so it was entirely different from your father.

My Mom lost over 40 pounds before she passed away, around 9 months after she stopped processing food.

The nursing home did their best to feed her. We were also told that a feeding tube at that stage would have no effect, because she wouldn't process food that way either.
If the doctor isn't worried, just go on doing what you have been doing.



Old 11-13-2008, 07:31 AM   #3
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Re: Weight loss - medical reason?

Mom lost weight in her last couple of months. The last five weeks were brutal-but then, Daddy died, and she jsut decided that she would follow him. But the nursing home gave a suppliment that helped. It was mixed with food and given at every meal, but only a tablespoon. I'm sorry that I don't remember more than that. It was suppose to help with their appetite and help keep their weight up. I know that Mom dropped wieght. She was 130lb. and was down to 105 her last weigh in before Daddy died and I think that she was about 100 when she shut down that last week.

The nursing home gave her ice cream, milk-whole, naything that would tickle her fancy to eat. They were very good about that. They also had ensure that they gave folks for an afternoon break treat along with cookies and energy bars. High caloric items...but she was dropping anyway and in the end it did no good.

Old 11-13-2008, 07:40 AM   #4
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Re: Weight loss - medical reason?

AD patients finally reach the stage where they "fail to thrive", when they reach this point there not much that you can feed them that will help them thrive or increase their weight.

Failure to thrive is one the sympthoms, that a Hospice Nurse will use to determine if a patient is ready for hospice care. I don't mean to sound harsh or unsensitive, but the reality of the situation is that when an AD patient reaches this stage it is time to have them evaluated by by hospice. The hospice care standards for AD patients are not as stringent as they are for other diseases and hospice care can be started much earlier if necessary.

Old 11-13-2008, 09:24 AM   #5
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Re: Weight loss - medical reason?

I am absorbing all of this information for further use... so I will know what is coming. So far Mom and Dad both eat whatever is before them and have actually gained weight since they went to AL.... but I know the time is coming. I do appreciate all I can learn before I get there.... Thanks

Love, deb

Old 11-13-2008, 04:38 PM   #6
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Re: Weight loss - medical reason?

my mom has lost so much weight due to dementia. she does not have a great appetite and i think chewing is just plain hard. she still eats ice cream almost every day.

Old 11-13-2008, 06:15 PM   #7
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Re: Weight loss - medical reason?

Eating has been the biggest battle my Dad has with my Mom on a daily basis. She does not eat anything. She keeps telling us she has no appetite. I keep trying to tell my Dad that you cannot force her to eat. Mom will eat a bowl of cereal in the morning. The rest of the day she doesn't want anything. She does like to eat ice cream but being diabetic she really should not have it. We also give her the glycernia its like the ensure for diabetics she will drink those. She is literally fading away right before my eyes from not eating, but I also know you cannot force a person to eat. Poor dad he just keeps trying with her every day but all he ends up doing is getting frustrated at her. It is very difficult to watch some one just fade away right before you.

Love Pauline

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