People may experience a decrease in appetite and loss of weight with any chronic illness.
Helping people when they are losing weight usually has two components:
- Be sure no undiagnosed or undetected medical problem is causing the poor appetite and/or weight loss.
Your doctor will determine if any testing is needed to check for other medical problems.
- Work to increase the number of calories the person takes in each day.
Encourage a good amount of food intake during meals. Use supplements, such as high-calorie shakes, between meals. You will need patience and persistence. Dealing with weight loss in people with chronic illness can be very frustrating and hard to solve.
Poor appetite and weight loss are especially a problem for people with dementia. Working with your doctor or a specialist may allow for some treatments for the dementia, although the impact of these treatments is often quite small.
There are some medications that are used to increase appetite. However, the risk of side effects usually outweighs the benefits of possible weight gain. Even when do work, the weight gain is often only temporary.