cathyb123 Asked July 2012

What to do with 98-year-old Mother with Alzheimer's who frequently asks if it's time to eat?

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My Mother has lived with my husband and I for 35 years. She is advanced Alzheimers and is progressively getting worse.. She can no longer tell time. She is obsessed with eating. Meals only, refuses snacks or small meals. We have a schedule for meals. In the morning she likes her breakfast between 8 & 8:30. We have lunch at 12 and supper at 5. When she finishes supper, she goes to bed. Over the past 6 months she has lost all perspective of what time it is and when she last ate. For instance, lately she has finished breakfast (2 bowls of cereal, coffe and 4 cookies) around 8:45 am. Around 9:15, she's wanting another meal. When asked, she says she's not hungry, but "Isn't it time to eat?" She will repeat this several times until about 11:30, when I tell her to sit at the table while we fix lunch. She likes to eat a big lunch (soup, sandwich, fruit cup, cake, orange drink and coffee). Within an hour of finishing lunch, she's asking for supper. We have offered her snacks between meals, but she refuses. Wants full meals. Mother was a bigtime junk food (chocolate, potato chips, corn curls, etc) eater up until about a year ago, when she stopped all junk food. Her explanation...she doesn't want it. Mother has gotten argumentative and threatening on occasion when told it wasn't time to eat. Says things like, "I've missed 5 meals now" My husband had fixed her meals or snacks when she gets upset, but ends up throwing most of it away because she says she's full. Which she is because it's only been a short time since she ate. We don't anymore and nothing we have tried works. This is causing increased stress on us all.

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sumlerc Aug 2012
You are not alone. I searched for this very topic, my Mom's short term memory has frightfully shortened within the past few months. Withing 5 mins the same questions can be asked. Mom is not remembering eatting or taking her meds, gets very angry and acussing the Nurses of not giving them to her. Two days ago, I took her favorite meal, we ate laughed and talked over it. Thirty mins later she claimed to be straving and really raising a stink at the NH. Mom has scheduled meals and snacks AND I keep her drawers filled with snacks. I've taken home cooked meals for her to enjoy, she'll say "oh goodie! I'll eat that tonight" well I thought she had until I found the food in her dresser drawer a week later. We all do the redirecting technique...about every 5-10 mins. Talk about exhausting. I guess they can't tell if their full or not? I don't know what's next, I'm digging in but my toes are weary.
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Jaye Jul 2012
sadly at later stages of AD folks forget to eat or do not have the strength... I would encourage you to do small frequent meals and healthy snacks.
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jeannegibbs Jul 2012
IsntEasy, I like your positive variation. I'd say "Not quite yet. I'll let you know." You'd say, "Yes, almost time. I'll let you know." I like your approach better. I'll have to remember that!
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Not too different from dealing with a toddler!
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ktkling Jul 2012
My mil has also lost all sense of time. I find that visual clues work well with her. Maybe you could try leaving her previous meal plate there for her to see until the next meal?
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JUSTICE Jul 2012
Many patients with this disease either eat alot or very littlejust tell her not yet
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jovanne Jul 2012
I worked in an Alzheimer's unit, and I know from experience that is part of the disease not remembering if they have eaten or not. They need a lot of fluids due to getting dehydrated very easily. They are not doing this purposely, I know its very frustrating for the care givers just try and put yourself in their shoes. Try fresh fruit and finger foods they love that.....another good idea is ask them about their past ...you would be surprise how many stories they could tell you... put on some music from their past and dance they love that too. Well, I wish you the best.
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ladee1 Jul 2012
Great ideas here, really like the routine you have going Kimbee...
When S becomes insistent about some things, I tell 'loving lies', to redirect him... 'oh thanks for reminding me, I'll get that done in a few minutes....can you help me put the laundry in the dryer?" and sometimes it is simply repition.... but I always try to involve him in my answer, i.e..... what would I do without you reminding me, or you are right, I'll get that going here in just a minute, Ok, and it helps, his is not about eating, but things like when is he going home, of course he is home, so I tell him things like I am waiting for a phone call from his daughter, she had some errands to run, but I'll let you know as soon as she calls, ect... like I said, I call them 'loving lies', how can it be wrong if you are making someone with Alz less anxious, less demanding, less bored....
And Cathyb clearly stated her mom refuses snacks, so like was said, it's not about the food, it could be about boredom, feeling anxious...it's something she REMEMBERS so it is important to her.
We didn't know we also signed on for being the entertainment with our elders, but it gives us a chance to use our brains for something besides thinking about our next nap.....or our missed nap would be more like it... so just use your imagination... and prayers for you and mom....
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Darcy123 Jul 2012
Mine did that for a while! She threatened to hurt me for not feeding her.... she was just fed! I find that re-direction works the best. When you find the conversation going in that wrong direction, change the subject. Cause a distraction. Do something that will cause a shift in the thought process..... Drop something on the floor, leave the room and re-enter... bring up some juicy memory from the past.... ask questions. The only thing that seems to work with Dementia when they get a fixed idea in their head is to re-direct their thoughts elsewhere. This became a great tool I used all the time in the nursing home. Hope this helps!!
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I totally sympathize! Having the same problem here! Except that I drop everything and fix a meal, only to have her refuse to eat it. The thing that saves me is making a lot of food then reheating leftovers. Good thing about Alzheimers: Leftovers are not a problem! I was on the phone long distance with my daughter the other evening, the one thing that keeps me sane, and as she lives in a far different time zone around our dinner time is the only time she can talk, and I talk to her less than weekly. Mom stomped her foot and called me a terrible caregiver because I was on the phone instead of making her dinner. When she heard about that, my aunt said that my mom and I "must have a personality conflict." Rubbish. That's like someone telling a parent of a 3-year-old throwing a tantrum that they would not cry if you were a better parent. I've decided that the "meal" she wants is really "attention", and some sort of anchor (mine has also lost track of time).
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