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How to limit Mom's Fondness for Sweets
Dave Cahail
Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2019 10:02 AM
Joined: 6/24/2018
Posts: 41

I am curious how to limit my mother's fondness for sweets as she progresses with her vascular dementia.
She has been going to the dentist each month to have fillings replaced and some new cavities addressed. Just this past Tuesday, I had to take her back to the dentist as she was complaining of a tooth ache in a tooth that her dentist was already treating. Now she has to have that tooth pulled as it is too far gone. After her dentist appt, she wanted to pick up some items so I took her to Rite Aid. While I focused her on basic needs (birthday card, craft items, etc.) she also wanted some snacks. I tried to direct her to purchasing nuts, popcorn and more healthy items, but she still insisted on getting gummy bears and some sour patch candies (which I reminded her she doesn't like). I think she thinks she is going to hand out candy to the MC staff and other residents. 

She has also recently gained a few pounds (she has been morbidly obese for years) and the staff has encouraged me to try to get her to buy more healthy snacks. 

I am trying to limit how much shopping she does and where she shops to help with this but it is still a struggle. I am sure aging as well as the VD contribute to her desire for sweets.

Any suggestions are appreciated. 

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2019 10:21 AM
Joined: 7/12/2017
Posts: 1607

Sugar free?  At this point I wouldn't care about the "chemical" sugar free stuff.  If she says oh no not sugar free, switch out the wrappings.  You won't be able to get rid of the cravings
Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2019 10:46 AM
Joined: 4/4/2018
Posts: 166

My advice is to accept that you cannot be a "food cop".  Encourage healthy snacks, but give her some control.  My sister died of lung cancer, but what she wanted most her last few weeks in hospice were cigarettes.  For her what difference did they make, so I bought them.  

If your mother has been obese for many years, she is unlikely to have much difference in her health by changing to healthy snacks now.   One of life's hardest challenges is to gracefully accept that there are things you cannot change.  

Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2019 10:56 AM
Joined: 6/16/2019
Posts: 30

We have added bananas and watermelon to the diet and that has cut down a wee bit on the cookie and candy consumption. 


Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2019 11:19 AM
Joined: 12/26/2018
Posts: 22

My Mom is in memory care and likes sweets as well.  I have read that it is a phase of the process (I've been told that she has VD/AD).  I've embraced her liking of sweets as something I can actually get her that makes her happy --albeit fleeting happiness.  I stock up a candy dish in her room and put some liked butterscotch hard candies in her purse when I visit.  My Mom doesn't realize that she is staying in this facility -- that part of her brain is gone-- but I know that she can occasionally have a piece of candy when she is in her room.  I am not worried about her health in this regard; I figure that we're already in the trajectory of a fatal illness, and her quality of life is already severely impaired.  Also, it's possible that whoever visits her room (there are wanderers) can have a piece of candy, so I feel like I can add a tiny bit of brightness to that person's day as well.  My Mom is mobile and not overweight at this point -- I also relate to the candy as a way to get some additional calories in when she may not be eating a meal.
Posted: Thursday, August 22, 2019 11:38 AM
Joined: 3/6/2017
Posts: 2221

A preference for sweets is almost universal in dementia. Many people will advise just allowing her to eat what she wants, but with her dental issues that could be a problem. FWIW, sticky sweets like gummies, dried fruit, taffy, raisins and hard candies are about the worst options for tooth decay- especially in a person who is not meticulous around dental hygiene. IME, MC staff tend to prompt tooth brushing rather than make sure it gets done thoroughly; it's part of why we transferred my aunt with VD/ALZ to a SNF within her community. 

You aren't going to override this preference but you do have some measure of control over what she brings into the facility. Perhaps you need to avoid taking her to stores where she can buy candy. You could make safer choices like chocolate bars or kisses that don't linger on the teeth along with some savory snacks.
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 2:32 PM
Joined: 1/11/2018
Posts: 93

harshedbuzz hit the nail on the head.  Love for sweets goes along with dementia. My mom (VD) sure developed the sweets craving. And oral care often gets neglected in MC, staff prompt rather than do the brushing so often it just doesn't get done.

Maybe not taking her shopping could help.  Make excuses for why you can't take her, and bring her a few sugar-free treats that could be shared with other residents or staff.  Sooner or later she won't be able to go shopping anyway.

If she is morbidly obese, that could pose problems for her care later on when  she is not able to do self-care.  MCs are often not equipped to deal with morbidly obese patients who are not totally mobile.  Not that she is in  any condition to undertake a weight reduction program, but anything you can do to minimize further weight gain and even get a few pounds off her would benefit the both of you in the future.  

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 3:27 PM
Joined: 8/22/2019
Posts: 1


My mother has a constant craving for sweets and bread, something I thought was peculiar to her until I mentioned it at a local Alzheimer's support group and I saw my fellow caregivers nodding their heads. It seems to be a common symptom for people with the condition to crave sugar and carbohydrates... which of course exacerbates their symptoms.

Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 3:59 PM
Joined: 6/3/2013
Posts: 822

BrianC:  what is the evidence that supports your statement that sugar and carbs exacerbate dementia symptoms?
Posted: Friday, August 23, 2019 4:19 PM
Joined: 8/21/2019
Posts: 9

My mother (vascular dementia) also eat lot of sugar, which I worry a lot, but she have been good with it, last blood analysis showing nothing wrong, she can (she have told me) live just eating cookies, and she tells me she sometimes doesnt feel to eat "real hot food", but she does, but, she eat cookies all days, and candies. And im very paranoid with food, so, so far im just paranoid.

Sorry dont have a solution for you. The only can think its to try to find some low sugar candies she like, and she keep good diet besides the sugar, good vegetables and drink water.