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January 2005

Weight Loss in the Elderly May Be a Sign of Impending Dementia

Arch Neurol. 2005;62(1):20-22. doi:10.1001/archneur.62.1.20

It is a frequently made observation that patients with Alzheimer disease (AD) tend to be thinner than healthy elderly individuals. When and why patients with AD lose weight have long been intriguing questions with elusive answers. The processes leading to weight loss are likely complex, differing to some extent among patients, by disease stage, and by degree of nutritional support. Weight loss in AD has negative prognostic implications, being associated with greater disease severity, a faster clinical progression rate, and increased mortality. In contrast, modest weight gain is associated with a slower progression rate and reduced mortality.1