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Alzheimer`s Disease/Early onset patient eating all the time but losing weight

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Question
My mother is 65 years old, diagnosed at 43 years with Alzheimer's. She has lost most of her ability to speak. About 3 months ago, she began losing weight very fast, but her food intake increased. She generally eats non-stop. She eats at least 4 large meals a day, with snacking in between. She can eat a full chicken breast, three servings of vegetables for dinner and then eat three yogurt cups with large quanties of fruit. About 30 minutes later she is looking for more. Her clothes are just hanging on her. She also has begun getting a shake in her hands. Is this normal, or should we be concerned?

Answer
Hi Kristine:  I'm so sorry to hear of your dear mother's early onset dementia and the struggles you are now facing with her.  I know it's very hard to see her losing weight despite all the food she eats.  There is obviously some area in her brain that is being damaged by the AD, and that area controls her hunger, as well as metabolic processes that allow her body to utilize the food she eats.  Please see that she gets as much as she wishes to eat, since this is one of the few social, normal things she still can do.  Add in nutritional drinks with high fat and calorie content.  I've always said that if I get dementia, just feed me chocolate milk shakes every day!  She may also be burning more calories by being active constantly, so finding some activities that help her relax may help her hold onto some of the weight.  There's also the possibility that there is another process going on in her body that is causing the weight loss.  Talk with her primary care doctor about some possibilities and then maybe go with the least intrusive testing.  The shaking of her hands isn't "normal," but it's very hard to pinpoint a reason with the brain damage from the AD being present.  Again, it could be caused by some other process going on.  I wish you much luck Kristine as you move forward with your mother on her journey through dementia.  Cindy

Alzheimer`s Disease

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Cindy Keith, RN, BS, Certified Dementia Practitioner

Expertise

As a nurse and dementia consultant, I can answer most questions on all types of dementia. If I cannot answer your question, I will attempt to find someone who can. My passion is to help caregivers of people with dementia, which in turn helps all those wonderful elders with dementia live better lives. When caregivers are better educated, they are able to better care for themselves and their loved ones, so education is key to decreased stress levels and healthier, happier families.

Experience

I have worked as a nurse in various disciplines of nursing for over 20 years, most of which was with the elderly. I was a health care coordinator in a dementia dedicated assisted living facility for 4 years before I started my own business (M.I.N.D. in Memory Care) as a dementia consultant six years ago. As a dementia consultant, I help families nationwide through phone conference calls as they struggle to care for their loved ones with dementia.

Organizations
Alzheimer's Foundation of America Geriatric Interest Network Sigma Theta Tau International

Publications
Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem - Caregiver Survival Manual For Living With A Person With Dementia" which is a collection of stories about people with dementia I have known, loved and worked with. Every story has a lesson to teach and this book gently teaches family caregivers lessons about how to better care for their loved one, as well as themselves during their caregiving journey. Published "Love, Laughter, & Mayhem In Eldercare Facilities: The Master Key For Dementia Training" Created "Bringing Nurturing To Memory Care" staff dementia training video Created Ebook: "Hair Stylist's Helpful Tips For Working With People With Alzheimer's & Other Dementias"

Education/Credentials
Registered Nurse with Bachelor's degree in Nursing; Certified Dementia Practitioner; Author of 2 books and an ebook

Awards and Honors
Sigma Theta Tau National Honor Society of Nursing

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