“Don’t let them eat cake”

Recent research in America has re-affirmed that being overweight increases your risk of getting diabetes by 60%!  Perhaps more importantly a high fat diet can also lead to damaged brain cells, which play a major role in loss of memory.

According to the Alzheimer’s Society, “People who are overweight at 60 are twice as likely to develop dementia at 75.”

I guess Marie Antoinette did not do her subjects any favours by encouraging them to eat cake.

The same piece of research from North Western University in Chicago also concluded that pear shaped women were likely to suffer from higher levels of memory loss.  It puts a whole new significance into the answer to the question – “Does my bum look big in this ?

At first glance this research seems at odds with my own experience.  I would say the majority of sufferers with dementia in residential care are more likely to be underweight than obese.

Is this to do with them losing weight after they develop the illness ?

Is it a physical symptom of the disease ?

Or more to do with lack of encouragement and assistance to eat ?

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3 Responses to “Don’t let them eat cake”

  1. Jon Cleaver says:

    Last evening May 8, we had a telephone call from South Africa. Julie’s Uncle George, now 88, moved out there in 2006 to live with a lady he had known for many years. He had developed a lung condition in later life, in order to avoid the British winter he spent six months in Cape Town.

    Jean his lady, called to say George was now suffering from dementia and would soon have to go into care and was ‘refusing’ to eat. I have known George for many years. A former TT Isle of Man entrant in 1920-30, George has always been very fit and very thin. I have seen more fat on a cold chip than on George. He has been very careful with his diet, even in later life, no fats, cakes, butter, sugar, always using skimmed milk.

    The only thing I ever noticed was like many of us, he would forget where he had put his keys. In fact up until 2005 he still rode his cycle everywhere. The only reason he ceased this activity was knee problems.

    George has not eaten for a week, although he has been taking water, he has deteriorated quite rapidly during this time. It is interesting to note that Julies mother suffered from Alzheimer’s and was in Newfield House, where she survived for over ten years. Mrs Harris was quite heavily built and loved cooking particularly cakes and many other sweet food’s, she certainly lost weight toward the end. You could not get two completely different life styles and yet both come to similar situations. While the American research indicates that a diet high in fat can cause damage to brain cells, could it also be that genes play a factor? I am certainly no expert on Alzheimer’s or Dementia, only being witness to the result. But, if you don’t eat, you will lose weight.

    Jon Cleaver

  2. Weston says:

    From what I’ve seen some people are determined to refuse to eat, others are reliant on staff to feed and encourage and there’s not enough time or enough people to give everyone the attention they need.
    The residents are manoeuvred into place and bibbed up, the food trolley arrives from the kitchen and is dished out – some of it looks like food we’d recognise and some that mushed up gunk which makes even the carrots look brown.
    Some residents move it around the plate, some tip their drinks into it, some get up and walk off and some just forget about lunch and fall back to sleep.
    Meanwhile one carer shovels food down the throat of an old lady in a reclining chair who has the faculties of a baby- sometimes a bit too fast for her liking, whilst another one buzzes round the room spooning a few mouthfuls in here and there, trying to get people going and ensure that everyone’s had something. Sometimes the chap who does the laundry even pops in and lends a hand – its not his job but he’s a nice chap and can see they need help.
    One man turns up every day to take his wife for a walk, feed her blueberries (which according to the Daily Mail are nothing short of a miracle fruit) and give her her lunch. It takes not much less than an hour to feed her – she chews really slowly and she does get distracted – but she enjoys her food and eats every bit. She’s one of about 18 residents in this room though with two or perhaps three people to help – they’re called the “unqualifieds”. The “qualifieds” wear blue and come with a little glass of orange and a tablet – refusing to eat this little nugget isn’t an option when these girls arrive.
    At this place most people seem to be losing weight – but most are in the later stages of Alzheimers so its expected really – it may be the illness, it may be through not eating enough and it may be just old age. Who knows and who cares?

  3. john graham says:

    Thank you for these two posts they each add add real colour and experience to the blog post of mine.
    My aspiration for Grumblesmiles is that many more comments like this, will eventually provide a body of opinion based on heartfelt life experience, which will change peoples attitudes to growing old.

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