The Eating Issue

posted in: Uncategorized | 18

Eating can become a very real problem for someone with dementia. There is the reduced appetite, swallowing problems, and unwillingness to lift a fork. A year ago Jim weighed 200 pounds. Twelve months later he weighed 150. Having lost one quarter of his body weight, he was wasting away before my very eyes. I talked to Jim’s doctors about it on every doctor’s visit, but there was no easy answer. I was feeling very helpless and unsure of what to do.

There was the basic issue of Jim not wanting to feed himself. He would stop using his utensils after about 5 minutes of eating and just set them down. And what Jim mostly ate was ice cream and anything else with sugar. His diet was so bad we stuffed him full of gummy vitamins (more sugar) to try and compensate. I had always heard that taste diminishes for the dementia patient, but heavily flavored foods like sweets remain appealing. I thought I had no choice but to feed him what he wanted, or he would starve to death.

I thought I had no choice but to feed him what he wanted, or he would starve to death.

Jim Eating

As a starting point I decided to feed Jim when he stopped feeding himself, and he readily took the food from me. We would get a few stares when I fed him in restaurants, but after a week or so that didn’t faze me anymore.

I also put a lot of effort into his meals. I’ve always considered myself just an average cook, but I had to step up my game to entice Jim to eat. It’s not that he wouldn’t eat his peas anymore, but the peas had to be fresh and tasty. No canned peas for Jim. I became very selective about the recipes I used and asked for a lot of advice on the best takeout restaurants.

About this same time I heard a radio program on the relationship between sugar, inflammation and dementia. Current thinking is that sugar causes cellular inflammation, and cellular inflammation is a cause of dementia. Good grief! I realized Jim was in trouble now with all the sugar he was consuming. After consulting with a functional medicine doctor, we switched Jim to a no-sugar, highfat diet (good fats like butter and olive oil).

The real breakthrough came when the medicine Jim takes to reduce anxiety and control moods was substantially reduced. His appetite roared back and he started eating like a 6’ 1” male again. He has now gained 10 pounds and his healthy diet has helped him quickly regain strength and muscle.

I intend to share more about what we’ve learned regarding the connection between diet and dementia. Jim still has a way to go to get back to where he needs to be weight wise, but he now walks up steps with confidence and can beat me arm wrestling again! That feels like a major victory after the year we just had.

18 Responses

  1. Ruth Samuelson

    The food bit is very helpful to hear. We have seen some of that with Ken’s mom and it’s helpful to hear your thoughts on that. Keep up the good work!

  2. What wonderful news that you were able to remove sugar from Jim’s diet and he’s eating so much better! Your blog is so inpsiring and such a witness to a loving marriage and faithful wife. We serve God first and foremost. May God bless you, Jim and your journey.

  3. Gary & Shirley

    MORE GOOD WORK VIC !

  4. I never heard that about sugar. Wish we had known that so Annette’s mother could have been helped. Thanks for the good news.

  5. Malia Kline

    Wow! It’s so inspiring to read about your success in learning and trying new things to solve problems that come up. Most of us just accept the ravages of a disease as a normal progression. Jim is so lucky to have someone like you who thinks far beyond the status quo. Love the visual of the two of you arm wrestling🌻

  6. Jim loves food and Vicki is feeding him only the best nutritious foods. Peanuts are one of his favorite snacks.

  7. Sandy Mandeville

    On The Road With Jim is a book of love and help to be published. You touch my heart!

  8. Jim Augustin

    Glad to hear that your Jim is coming back. I know the part about sugar and inflammation before but didn’t make the direct connection to the brain. How eye opening. I thank you,

  9. Doc. Carter

    Ask. Jim about Adela wright our cook at the ka house..”

  10. You go Vickie.Jim is so blessed to have you!!!!!

  11. Paula Baker

    That is great news! You are the best Vickie♡

  12. You are amazing Vic, you are already helping so many people with your blog. Glad to hear dad is doing better.

  13. Elaine Ginsberg

    This sure brings memories of my dad who had the same problems. You are doing such a wonderful job with Jim!

  14. Sandi Anderson

    Your posts are so informative and this particular post opened my eyes . I plan to share your blog with neighbors and friends. Thank you for sharing On The Road With Jim.

  15. Jim, Lisa, Jim Jr, Jesse, Jordan, Jenna

    This is remarkable information and you are remarkable to commit to the mission. Thanks for sharing this connection.
    Like to see you with your chef apron on 🙂

  16. Brenda Stilwell

    makes a person wonder…if the no-sugar, high fat diet could PREVENT the onset of dementia?

  17. Vicki,
    Your journey with Jim is inspiring. So much love being poured into it.

  18. Susan Smith

    thanks for sharing!!!

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