My 81-year-old husband is unable to eat.

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A result of my 81 year old husband's tongue and tonsil cancer treatment is Dysphagia. On top of that he has kidney disease and has to limit his potassium and protein. On top of that the tongue and tonsil cancer was his third cancer so I am monitoring his PH level. On top of that he has dementia. Recently his weight fell to 150 lbs. Knowing that a hospital of nursing home would not comply with his feeding requirements I took the responsibility of bringing his weight up. In each milkshake I use rice milk for the vehicle, add Visalus and a liquid vitamin called Liquid Vitamin 528 from VitaCost, a duck egg, sweetened condensed milk, and vanilla ice cream. I get blood tests ever three months (and I do tricks to get those) to monitor my success. Technically he could eat applesauce and squash and other non chewable food items, but he refuses almost everything except the milkshakes, and that except is vanilla pudding. I make 4-8 milkshakes a day and make a double recipe of pudding sometimes twice a day. He refuses to believe there is anything wrong with himself. He also wets. He wet two sets of pajamas last night. My one escape from this arena is an every Monday visit to a nursing home to attend a caregiver meeting, and every other person there is caregiver to a person with Alzheimer's, so I have to limit my contributions to that agenda. Sometimes I fell so very isolated. Nobody wants to hear about or attempt to understand my situation.


We give our 91 year old Mom, Ice Cream with Ensure poured over it and she likes it. They now have Ensure Clear, looks like juice, and I pour this over Sherbert for a change, but have to add sugar, as it isn't as sweet as the Ice Cream. Plus the applesauce is probably tart, we add sugar to her home health Nurse says "sweet" is the sense they keep the longest. I've even put a little sugar in her eggs to get her to eat them.
Stumble, just want to say "I hear what you are saying" and truly care about what you are going through. My situation has eased a bit as my MIL that I was taking care of passed away as well as my father; and my mother is in a nursing home. It can be so isolating and devastating a life; my only solace at times of desperation was my faith and ability to get away from the situation. Just want you to know, it is good to vent and this forum has so many caring people on it going through similar situations. Blessings to you and hope things improve in some way. Take care.
I don't know how to say this delicately, so I'll just say it. When our bodies are shutting down, we stop wanting food. Hunger goes away. This is nature at work and it happens as a natural course of events at the end of a long life.
Again, I'm only able to be this blunt because I don't know you or your husband. But, if your husband was in a nursing facility, wouldn't you be freer to care for him in the ways that only you can? Free from the labor of soiled sheets and loads of laundry, you could fully focus on being with him to share this final transition in his life.
I agree with the reply from IsntEasy. What is your husband's prognosis? I think a heart to heart conversation with the doctor is needed. If his prognosis is poor you may want to consider looking into hospice. Hospice is available in the home or in a facility. My mom recently started hospice for Alzheimer's disease and she is actually doing better since starting because they give such good care. Sometimes people do so well on hospice they are taken off the hospice program. Hospice does not mean that he is going to die today, tomorrow or any time soon, some people live comfortably on hospice for a long time.
It is better not to force someone to eat when they don't want to, as the above post stated he may not have the appetite because it is painful to eat and/or is body is starting to shut down. People caring for loved ones with Alzheimer's disease will experience some of the same issues you mention - Many Alz. patients will stop eating at some point in their disease. Give him lots of fluids to help with hydration. Are you eligible for care through your states Agency on Aging?
I agree with the previous two posters. My mother in law had AD and a very compassionate MD advised us that her inability, unwillingness to eat, was nature's way of saying enough. That was in the late 1980's My wife was diagnosed with AD in 07 and stage iv cancer in '10, she declined chemo and has repeatedly over the years and with her health care proxy/ directives made her wishes very clear. Let the OPs situation be a lesson to all to have that discussion with your LO so the they know exactly what you want at EOL in terms of compassionate care and what life extending effort you want made on your behalf
I hate to be so blunt, I apologize in advance, but there we're dealing with a horrible disease and confronting these questions ia a reality is unavoidable.

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