frustrated2010 Asked April 2010

My diabetic father lives alone and refuses to eat or go out. He says food doesn't taste good. What can I do to help?

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My father is only 68 years old. I am the only one around to take care of him. He doesn't drive, doesn't leave his house, and refuses to eat. He is on depression medications, and we've tried them all, and it doesn't seem to help. I dont know what I can do to help him anymore. He says food doesn't taste good. He has dentures. He is wasting away to nothing. He also smokes 2 packs of cigarettes a day and refuses to quit. Anyone have anything they can suggest? I bought him ensures, and he drinks two a day, and that's it....

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dj Jul 2010
My father is 83, diabetic, and also smokes 2 packs a day. My mother passed away in March. He says he's not hungry 3-4 days/week and only wants to drink milk. On those days, I make sure he drinks at least 2 Boost Plus Shakes as he doesn't understand that he shouldn't take his insulin if he isn't eating. This seems to work. He is on Lantus insulin and on 2 occasions prior to starting this regimen, he was unable to get up out of bed because of low blood sugar. I'm not sure what your father's situation is but they say one of the things that happens sometimes 2-3 months before dying is you lose your appetite and sleep more. The body is getting itself ready and doesn't really need to eat. My mother started refusing meals in January. I was not aware of this until reading an article at Hospice re: The Process of Dying. I'm not saying this is what's happening with your father but depending on his health and other circumstances, this could be. Good luck!
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hosastone Jun 2010
Make shakes with sugar free ice cream and sugar free favorings, can use the diabetic meal replacement that is specially for their diet for the liquid.
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sorry- I noticed that you said diabetic, maybe milkshakes aren't the best solution.
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I used to take my mom milk shakes cuz she loved them, Ans smoothies to, you can hide a lot of nutrition in them. I went to bodybuilding.com and got some high protein powder in vanilla for the smoothies and chocolate for the milkshakes. At least she got some vitamins and protein from something she would eat. Heck, I gave her all the milkshakes she wanted as long as they had the powder in them.
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Wow, two good (troubling) situations.
For the non-eater, look up all his meds online and see if any of them are known for making food taste bad. Some make food taste metallic. Read the label on the Ensure. I think it offers only 10 of protein. I buy Mom a 30 gr protein drink called Premiere Protein High Protein Chocolate Shake. At costco, 18 11.5 oz drinks is only $24, and all ingredients are more healthy than Ensure. I break this up into several uses per day, making hot mochas (with coffee, almond milk, more chocolate), chocolate vanilla yogurt. I always mix in a teaspoon of soluble fiber like Benefiber. This shake does not have many calories, which you can augment with chocolate sauce, mix protein drink with a real milk shake.

What you can try to do is parlay the shakes up a notch into other food groups. I can now dissolve and mix in a few ginger snaps in her vanilla-applesauce yogurt. From the shakes, I was able to get those Campbell Soup at Hand Tomato cheese soup, then use the container for more healthy ingredient soups. Mom's problem is from ill fitting dentures, not lack of appetite.

for the mother at home, depressed, start collecting DVDs that you can play again and again. Like Andre Rieu's "rockerfeller Center" program with the Harlem Gospel Choir. We have a dozen of his programs, and they can be watched one a day. We never tire of them. Mom claps and conducts along.

I was in the same position as you. Mom depressed and not wanting to do anything. Me stuck with a blithering idiot, to be blunt. I finally got her on Zoloft, so she had a spark. Then I had to create a whole world just for her OUT THERE. Find a park with a restaurant, befriend the counter people. Find a supermarket where your mom can drive the cart. Perhaps they have a Starbuck's. Again, befriend the counter people so they call your mom by name and make a fuss over her. I found that on behalf of an old lady, I can sucker any young mother with a stroller to come over and have mom googie at the baby, hold hands. Then I take pictures of them together, and show Mom the pictures right then...and then later. i am going to put a slideshow together so this will play on the TV set.

I originally got my first digital camera so I could snap pictures of Mom in the company of others. They showed that people still enjoyed her company, that she wasn't the horrible hermit that she had become.

At home, create a community of birds and squirrels. Even if you have a small patio, hang up a birdfeeder, scatter peanuts. Get a cat or dog or cage of canaries. I am a one person show with these animals, as I am always saying conversations between them.

I've been stuck here in mom's house for 8 years, and have had many of these issues to deal with. Last jan I started a blog, when I thought Mom's delusions were taking her down the final stretch. We got the delusions under control, but I did continue the blog, with many posts about squirrels, using ballet videos, etc. Google the term whendoesthegladstart and my blog will come up on top.
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I'd talk to his doctor right away about giving him some kind of appetite stimulant. If he's already on antidepressants he's used to taking meds so that's good. I'd tell his doctor you're not leaving his office until you talk appetite stimulants & get a Rx. His dentures might have something to do with it too. Talk with his dentist. But since you say he's wasting away, I'd make the stimulants my top priority. Worked for my mom. She said nothing tasted good and was down to 78lbs. It does take a few days so the sooner you start the better. Wish I had known about them earlier. Mom may not have gotten as bad as she did.
Good luck!
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beta42 Apr 2010
my mom lived in her own home with my broher who never moved out - she 79- he 47. she was very depressd- they did not get along- when i visited her - i would have to go in the other livingroom to vist him- he quit buying her coke which she loves - and cigs. i am recently unemployed. my son who is 20 moved out on a sat. in feb. of2010 and my mom moved in on sunday- she used to want to die in that house- but the lonliness was killling her- so she finally wanted to move in with me- she has gained some weight but still seems depressed at times cuz she cant talk due to dementia- its so sad and hard for me cuz i have no one to talk to - at first she would sob all day - put on americas funniest videos and she will laugh all day - now she watches monk and oter g rated shows- its the talking that sucks cuz she is still lonely due to no conversation- and me too.- does your father want to move in with you- or do you work- someitmes it comes to the point where they are unable to take care of themselves- and you need to step in and make some decissions- who buys him the cigs. my mom would smoke 2 packs a day too cuz she forgets she just had one so i have to move the lighter and the ash tray- i give her bout 8 a day. was thinking bout getting her the patch- when she was at er she was beggin for a cig but when they gave her a patch she didnt even ask for one in 2 days.- good luck
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