Mom getting "sick" at meal time.

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Mom went to the best nursing home in town last Thursday for rehab, hopefully she can come home at some point. She has never been a good eater and gets embarrassed eating in front of others because she can't see well and is messy. At least three days she has gotten "sick" at meal time, wheeled her to the nurse's station and then back to her room. The nurses take her vitals (recent arrhythmia diagnosis), they are fine, she says she isn't in pain. I think it's nerves, she told me she is kind of enjoying meal time when she sits with residents who are social and talk. Her roommate says mom isn't eating much at all, she is trying to encourage her.

Any ideas on what to do? They are giving her ensure, so that is helpful. I take her back to the doctor on Monday, need to start a big list of questions.

Thanks.

Nancy

16 Comments

Have her eat in her room by herself for awhile, and see if her appetite improves.
See if they can get OT to focus on adaptive utensils and techniques for feeding herself as a goal. It's hard for some people not to be able to do something well and worry how they look. Anxiety can make you nauseous, that's for sure. It may get better with time and patience, and there is a lot of nutrition in Ensure for the time being! The nurses could possibly get her a snack she is comfortable eating privately for times she just isn't up to the full meal. You can make sure the doc knows about it - I bet Mom would forget to mention it - and they can make sure its not medications side effects too. You may have to push them to weigh her regularly too and make sure its not trending downhill. I hope things go well, and you get your wish for Mom to come home! A good rehab where they work as a team towards the goals that are important to you can work wonders. My dad came home from one and had a few extra years at home, and I've watched a couple close friends get back to their prior level of function or close enough to be on their own at home again at least.
PS - maybe there is something they could do to irmpove her vision too? Agan, you may have to push to get it done during the rehab stay unless there is a eye service on site, but it could be worthwhile.
Is there a place where she can eat by herself? If it's nerves, maybe she'd do better eating alone.
Since she likes the social aspect of the dining room, could she have some finger foods in there, while she is visiting with the others at the table, and then be served the meal in her room? Perhaps with time she'd be more comfortable eating in the dining room.
Nancy, lots of good points made here, I like them all. Many elderly people are not such neat eaters as they once may have been. Remind her others probably don't even notice, as they are busy tring to get that food successfully into their OWN mouths! No one should expect perfection of others OR themselves in rehab! I'm sorry your mom is having trouble. She may just need a little time to get used to everything? You didn't say why she needed to go there. If she is post surgical, that may be enough to be the problem; smell and taste are affected for a while after surgery. Perhaps she is smelling the food while it is being prepared? It must feel a little strange or awkward or be an adjustment to have to be in an institutional setting regardless of the reason. I hope she'll be doing better soon. Let us know?
Such wonderful suggestions! She went there after almost four weeks in the hospital from a pelvic fracture, no surgery. She was in a skilled nursing unit, came home for a day, went back the next day with a new heart arrhythmia problem.

She is concerned about her weight, she went from 108 to 110, which is excellent! Today is her birthday, my brother is going at noon to visit. He was a psychologist for 20 years before we started our own business. He knows what is going on and is very good at figuring out what she is thinking. She doesn't complain about this when she is in her chair for PT. She complains how long she in PT, they work with her and then she sits for a while and her sessions go as long as 2-3 hours. I tried to tell her at least she can look around and visit and isn't stuck in her room. One of the aides took her outside on Monday in the courtyard with a few others. She felt sick and had to go back to her room.

I thought maybe it was sitting in her chair and really more of a discomfort/pain. We are going to ask about a wheelchair that kind of reclines, so she isn't sitting at a 90 degree angle.

She has macular degeneration and they can't do anything for her eyes. I am going to have the OT talk to her about eating. Since she broke her right upper arm in late March, she has trouble with utensils. I have eaten there and the food is really good, so much better than the hospital. Since she really can't tell me what is wrong, I think it's more anxiety than anything. She is also very afraid of her rate zooming up. They check her vitals every time she has a spell and they are always okay.

I just want her to be comfortable there and work on her goals so she can come home. We will most likely continue with home health at home and some hours from her private care giver agency.

Do you all feel like this is a full time job, at times?
Full time? Nope-TRIPLE time! Maybe more... Hope your brother can help. I think chair / position discomfort could be a potential problem. If it was all anxiety, it seems her heart rate would go up. Since she likes the social aspect with the ladies who talk, request she be placed with them at meals and perhaps ask those ladies privately to help look out for mom. Our elders all need purpose and to be needed. That would be an easy way for the ladies to help another peer and surely would make mom feel good too. Thx for fling us in on why mom is there. Sorry she had a fracture. Keep us up to date-I learn so much here from everyone's experiences. Kimbee
One of the staff members from church went to see her yesterday. He is a psychologist and excellent with my mom. My brother went later and they both said anxiety. She just finished meds for a UTI, so I think the antibiotic is contributing to the nausea and not wanting to eat. She said she felt "weird" at supper, but stayed at the table and ate. I am thinking the guy from church gave her tips and hints on what to do. I didn't want to ask many questions, I am hoping she will let him help her deal with all she is going through. The antibiotic is causing her lots of problems now, she is done taking it, so hopefully the side effects will go away. Thanks.
Nancy. Glad u got some help. UTI tx wasn't Bactrim was it? Very heavy serious side effect profile, many have lots of probs w it. Banned in some countries but not here. Pushing fluids, h2o especially should help flush med or other toxins, & helpful for UTI reduction/ non-recurrence. Sr's manifestation of UTI is behavioral n significant, so mom has many possible sources of anxiety. Hoping she's feeling better soon. She is quite the trooper, not sure I could do 3 hrs pt normally, let alone w all she's had going on, hugs for you and mom both! Kimbee

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