Mother is refusing to eat now.

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My mother has had to go to LTC due to a fall where she broke her back. She had been very independent living in assisted living with Parkinson's. She had a few falls but had been doing very well. We had noticed some decline lately and was not surprised that his fall diminished her ability to care for herself. But, now, she had developed dementia and is combative. She is now refusing to eat. I have tried to be there for meals and tried to help her but it did not help either. She kept fighting and saying she would not be fed like a baby. I offered her the fork or spoon to feed herself but she pouted like a child and still refused. She still slaps at anyone who tries to help so they will be trying some psych med to see if it will help her attitude. Has anyone else dealt with this? She is 87 and very frail. She will not last long at this rate.


Yes. The digestive system shuts down gradually and eating becomes uncomfortable. They avoid the discomfort by not eating. It is an end sign, yes, and you should follow her advanced directives, which should be on file at the nursing home.
I have POA. She has a DNR on file which is something that we all discussed many years ago when we drew up the health directives for both Mom and Dad. With her Parkinson's, the doctors had told us that her swallowing muscles had started to malfunction. But, this has nothing to do with that. This is just her combative attitude where she is throwing a childish temper tantrum and refusing to eat. So, this is where we are.

I do remember the time when my mother-in-law was at end stage where her digestive system was shutting down and she refused food. It was in a different way. She would just shake her head "no" and spit out the food. We knew she was failing. Maybe it is just the difference in the two being that she did not have the dementia, combativeness, etc. It is just very frustrating not being able to help her.

So, when I go visit, and she is laying in bed sleeping, I just hold her hand and talk with her. I talk about old thing, great times, her good cooking, her great gardens, etc. Seems to soothe her.
DNR is not enough. Get a MOLST or POLST form done. Respect her wishes. Swallowing problems don't get better, they get worse.
You sound like a loving child. Do what you can to give her some peace and happiness. If she isn't quite dying yet, she will get hungry, and will eat. She may eat a very big breakfast when you aren't there to see it. Does she like ice cream? Who cares about a balanced diet at 87?

Death is not always a tragedy. Have courage, and God bless you both.
Yes, my mother lost interest in eating too but we knew it would likely happen and we decided beforehand that we would not try to force her to eat. If it's not a physical problem, it's likely her body's natural way of beginning to shut down. Scary, I know. It sounds like you are loving her as well as you can.
She does have her Advanced Directive set up stating that she wants no life sustaining procedures performed on her to prolong her life. She said if it it comes to the and she is at the point in her life where she will not have quality of life, do not do anything to prolong her life....period.
You can empirically try an acid blocking med to see if maybe that's making it painful to swallow, and pick things that are cooling and soothing like milkshakes and soft ice cream cones that she can handle more independently. Eating was always real important to my mom and she had a nasty hiatal hernia and vascular dementia-related parkinsonism so she stayed on Sinemet and Prevacid or Prilosec even in hospice so she could eat.
We got an early morning call that she had fallen trying to get out of bed so we met her at the hospital. X-rays were negative. They did find an old old shoulder dislocation but was unable to reset and I'm not about to put her thru any surgery at this age. She kept telling me she really wanted a big block of brick cheese to eat. Lol. Then, later on, she asked me if we had landed yet...which is humorous since she would never ever get in a plane. When we got her back to her room, I did get them to bring what they had for dinner. I was able to get her to eat quite a bit of potatoes and gravy. They were all amazed as was I. She had a couple bites of the chopped chicken which was really delicious but too hard for her to swallow. And no way on the zucchini. But, at least some food went in for a change. She kept telling me she wanted Rice Krispies. So, I told her nurse and she said she was going to see what they could do about getting her that for evening meal if that would get her to eat. We are going to get some bananas, brick cheese, and other soft things to see if that entices her to eat better.
Oh that's good news, Terri. My Mom eventually would eat nothing but ice cream and the doc said to give her all she wanted. At least she was getting nutrients in her. They do seem to prefer softer foods in the later stages.

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