According to research, early dementia patients began to crave more seasoning on their food and that their taste in food had changed in some ways. Described as wanting more strong-tasting foods, the other unusual changes in eating for early dementia patient included wanting to drink more soft or sweet drinks and drinking more tea, coffee or water.
Alzheimer’s.net said: “As most caregivers know, many people who have dementia experience sudden changes in appetite which can lead to appetite loss, weight loss or increased cravings of foods and weight gain.
“Often people with dementia don’t taste food and experience flavour like they once did, which can change appetite preferences.
“Because taste buds are diminished as people age, people with dementia opt for heavy foods or foods with a lot of flavour.”
Dementia care: Experiencing an appetite change including a sudden liking of this food is a warning
In a study with the US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health, the relationship between eating disturbance and dementia severity in patients with Alzheimer’s disease was investigated.
The study noted: “There have been few comprehensive studies including eating habits and food preference in patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
“The aims of this study were to investigate almost all eating disturbance and to examine the relationship of eating disturbance to dementia stage in AD.”
The study found that patients with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) had difficulty swallowing and loss of appetite.
Patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and semantic dementia (SD) had an increase in appetite and preferred sweet and strong foods and wanted to eat the same foods repeatedly.
A person’s taste buds detect four tastes: sweet, salty, sour and bitter.
As one gets older, the fewer taste buds they have and the less sensitive they become to taste.
When we are young, we have between 10,000 and 15,000 taste buds.
However, by age 70, most have lost about two out of three of the taste buds and as such food often begins to taste bland.
Medications for dementia and Alzheimer’s are also known to affect a person’s taste.
Dementia care: According to studies, a sudden liking for strong and flavoured foods is a warning
BMJ reported: “The frequencies of symptoms in all five domains, except swallowing problems , were higher than in Alzheimer’s disease and changes in food preference and eating habits were greater in semantic dementia than in Alzheimer’s disease.
“In semantic dementia, the development pattern was very clear: a change in food preference developed initially, followed by appetite increase and altered eating habits, other oral behaviours, and finally swallowing problems.
“The first symptom was altered eating habits or appetite increase.
“In Alzheimer’s disease, the pattern was not clear although swallowing problems developed in relatively early stages.”
Alzheimer’s Society added: “Eating and drinking well is important for staying healthy.
“A healthy diet is likely to improve a person’s quality of life.
“Not eating enough can lead to weight loss and other problems including fatigue, higher risk of infection and less muscle strength.
“While a healthy, balanced diet is important, in the later stages of dementia the most important thing is making sure the person with dementia takes on nutrition, and a higher-calorie diet may be appropriate.”