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Alzheimer's Disease

Appeptite Changes in Alzheimer's

06/11/2007

Question:

Can Alzheimer's dementia make the sufferer want to eat all the time? My mum will say she is hungry half hour after eating a full size meal, yet, in the morning up until she gets out of bed, she has little or no appetite. Her medication is Aricept, anti-depressants, and Prednisolone. She has been on the Prednisolone 6mg for years. She will continue to ask for food until bedtime. She points to the middle of her rib cage or top of her tummy and say, I have a real hunger feeling there. It seems cruel to not give her snacks, at the same time, it seems cruel to keep giving her food because she is getting heavier. She is 90 years. On a previous question, I said my mum was having very bad nights since her aricept was raised from 5mg to 10mg. You suggested going back to 5mg, which I took your advice. My mum has good nights now, no bad dreams or calling out, and she is much calmer. The consultant gave her consent to this change. Thank you.

Answer:

Appetite can be up and down in Alzheimer's. Sometimes certain medications can cause increased appetite. Some individuals develop obsessions about food. Often if the patient is busy doing other activities, it will take their mind off of eating. Sometimes adjusting the antidepressant will help with cravings. It is hard to know exactly in your mum's case what may help without knowing all of her history. Hope this helps.

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Response by:

Douglas W Scharre, MD Douglas W Scharre, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Neurology
Clinical Associate Professor of Psychiatry
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University