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My grandmother 6 weeks ago, collapsed and broke her femur bone, she had a half hip replacement and seems to have recovered so well from that, she walks better than she did before! But 2 days after the operation she had a heart attack, the dr said she was ok but she wasnt eating even in the hospital. We brought her home to look after her and thought she wouldnt eat due to it being hospital food. 2 days at home and her pulse rate went crazy, 171 bpm. We took her back to the hospital for monitoring and they have given her medication for this. She is now at home with us, she stays in bed almost all day, says no to anything we offer her. Even coffee which was her favourite she wont have anymore. She is very frail now and we can see hollow cheeks now too... Does anyone have any suggestions on what we can try? We feel very desperate and worried as any food offered to her she says no, but may have one bite. She also constantly complains of feeling weird and nautious.

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Mands2...I'm the one who commented before about there is a pill that can increase appetite, which takes 7-10 days to kick-in and in addition raised the issue about assisted feeding. My mother died a year ago April due to dementia related starving.

Your comments explaining what she says or does sounds like the same that I heard my mother say or do: Eating/drinking something today and won't touch it the next..."she says she wants to eat"..."not eating much and is now very weak." The same as my mother.

While you haven't actually noted how long this lack of eating has been going on, it is substantially effecting her if she is weak. The body responds in trying to survive by gathering energy wherever it can. If there is no food, then the body starts to consume body fat and muscle etc. (a further decline) and eventually it reaches the point where the organs start to break down. The car can't continue to operate when it runs out of gas! A point is reached where there is no comeback. It can be sudden and quick.

I know you last wrote that you're returning to the doctor and seeking help. That's good and the right thing to do. But, based on my experience, I want to impress upon you that with dementia you should not let the patient be the primary guide for their care. They do not have consistent, clear, informed understanding or thinking. YOU may/will probably have to make decisions for your mother that she has not given you an opinion or has been inconsistent on her wishes or has given you an opinion that would not be in her best interests.

But, I'll cut to the chase, at the risk of sounding insensitive...if your mother does not get something substantial in her stomach soon...she will die. Doctors and nurses will often times dance around that statement...won't say it or they soften it. Whether or not you tell the patient and whether it will help or harm, is another issue that should be considered. But, because of dementia patients' distorted way of thinking and consuming information, they quite possibly won't comprehend the seriousness of the situation. That is why YOU need to make some decisions and carry them out..because your mother is not her best advocate....IMO.
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First, I agree with those who suggested the meds might be suppressing her appetite and that a change would likely be helpful. Now to where we differ. I think you should consult a naturepath. If that isn't feasible, find a health food based nutritionist. I once tried Ensure for my mother and she hated it. Also, I looked at the ingredients and was dismayed to find non-food and poor choice food ingredients.

Good luck.
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Thank you all for your answers.. it has helped us alot.
To answer the broken femur questions, she did have a half hip replacement, she was confined to the bed for 5 days and they then started physio on her. She doesnt remember breaking her femur due to dementia (which is probably a blessing in disguise!) We have tried Ensure but she complains it is too sweet, too thick and has a couple of sips, homemade chicken soup went down one day and the next no thanks. She is drinking water but not eating much and is now very weak. Dont think she has given up on living as she says she wants to eat but feels too ill to.. but not sure?? We will go back to the dr and hope they can help us!!
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Yes, you all call the protein drink Ensure there. We call it Resource here. My mother has been hospitalised for 2 weeks so far with a broken arm. Never has been a good eater. I honestly don't know how her body keeps functioning. The hospital has been giving her Resource drink to fill in the gaps of non-eating but it gave her nausea. I notice they've stopped offering it to her....3 meals a day and she'd be pushing to eat enough to make up one small serving.
We can all only help those who want to help themselves and sadly have to stand by and watch them fade.
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Re feeding tubes; i would definately use one for my mom and if I have the choice, i would use the one that goes into the abdomen. I hear the other kind is very uncomfortable and force feeding when there is nausea does not sound good. They can also feed mom with IV I believe.
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Supporting fixing the nausea; who wants to eat with that? There are also anti nausea pills to chew, to swallow and suppositories via drs prescription. I would not force any foods if she is nauseated. Just offer things until you hit one that she is interested in if there are any. I strongly feel the nausea must be addressed first.
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Mands2...I, like others here, suggest talking to her doctor about the nausea. Perhaps she isn't eating because something such as medication is upsetting her stomach. It's understandable that eating wouldn't sound good to her if she's got an upset stomach. Meds could be changed if the doctor thinks she's on something that can cause nausea. Usually prescriptions come with an informational paper which explains side effects. Do you have access to that?Another thing to consider...maybe her stomach is upset because she's not eating. You could try Ensure drinks and there's also a pudding/ice cream product (the name escapes me) that's similar. You could encourage her to try these products telling her that putting something in her stomach may relieve the nausea. "Let's try it and see if it helps." (depending on how long she's gone without eating properly, it may take several servings for days before you could get a good evaluation.)

There is also a pill that helps encourage appetite and eating. It takes 7-10 days to kick-in. I learned of it when my mother was placed "temporarily" in a nursing home/rehab center. She also had an eating problem. It started where she wasn't eating as much...to eating very little..to not eating anything. This decline in eating went on for weeks...months. Dementia related, I saw her wither away, losing over 20 pounds in her final 2 weeks. She was on this pill that's suppose to improve appetite, but not long enough for effect, before she passed. So, I can't tell you if it works, but the NH staff said they had had a lot of success with it.

Finally, there is also the option of artificial/assisted feeding or feeding tubes. This can be a controversial method and I would recommend that you investigate the pros and cons on the internet or from a medical professional to answer your questions or concerns.

I wish you and your mother guidance and peace with your decisions.
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I am very concerned about our situation: My 92-year old mother fell and suffered a back compression fracture in March and been taking several pain narcotics since. Her appetite is poor and she has lost 25 pounds and become somewhat frail. I would just like to throw away all of the damn narcotic medications and use only Telonol for pain, and maybe her normal appetite will return! Some of the side effects include nausea and constipation. Her doctors said that it will take 3 to 4 months for the broken bone to heal, and about 6 months of physical therapy. She just received a back brace and is using a walker for 30 minutes of daily exercise while getting around at home. Her orthotist says she should be active for 2 hours daily! I know that it is important, but I want to check with her cardiologist at her appointment next week on that advice before trying the exercise her for a longer daily time.

The stress on me is often enormous, as no other family is available because they live too far away. A daily caregiver does come in to help, but some things being done just do not work out with Mom; I always say that no one is perfect and no perfect match will ever be found. We just pray and try out our best with the available help. Another problem for me is being unemployed for 3 months now. I really need to work full-time to support myself as my parents have been divorced for over 50 years and no one is able to help us/me out. However, once I do find a job, how will I manage to juggle the demands of the job and her care with prescriptions, her required exercise, recordkeeping, meals, mail handling, shopping, etc.? I truly will count on her caregiver to fill in for much of my absense, but again, the help may never be complete in our household. The help is also expensive to pay.

Mom does not want to go into a nursing home; sounds like the constant mix of people may drive her crazy in contrast to our relationship at home. Sometimes I feel I have no choice but to think only about my own life; I am only 56 and have many more years to live and want to work and walk away to have fun without more interruptions!!

PatatHome01
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I agee with fordellcastle. It may be time for your mother to just let go and let God. I suggest you call a hospice agency and have a hospice doctor evaluate her. As a former hospice volunteer, I learned that prolonging life by forcing food and liquids only makes the patient more uncomfortable.
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Good Idea this Ensure and quite tasty too! I especially like Butter Pecan! Wondering if she could keep it down if she is having problems being nausousness??? I'd be sure to let the doc know that she has this problem. There is a shot they give them in rehab when they have vomiting!

I'm still concerned about her broken leg and the fact that she is walking after just six weeks. Takes a good while for a femor to heal 3-6 months in most cases. Looks like she'd be in a great deal of pain!
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i agree with what has been said, no rehab for your grandmother? That is very very odd. Maybe you can call doctor and order it. Breaking bones in the elderly can set them back so I hear. Don't give up but you have to help the nausousness; no one can bear that for too long. Once that is taken care of you can see if her appetite returns. I also use chocolate Ensure in my coffee; mom and i both love it.
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So very sad, and gutwrenching to watch her fail like this. My father was quite frail near the end and not much eating. But, he did enjoy drinking a high protein drink called Ensure. It was given to him at the rehab and it comes in different flavors and he said it really tasted good. When he returned home, I bought this drink at local CVS pharmacy and grocery story. It's at least enough maybe to keep her comfortable. Blessings to you. Take care.
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The meds she has been given might have suppressed her appetite or may be the case for feeling nausous (sp). Check with doctor if these are side effects of the meds she has been given. Other meds can replace the ones she is currently taking.
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She fell six weeks ago and she's already walking? No rehab? How''s that working? My mom fell six weeks ago, broke her femor, and can't weight bear for 8 weeks! Hum.............. I'm surprised! Hope she starts doing better but that seems to be a lot for someone her age to go through and be at home so soon! I'm curious as to why her doc's didn't put her into rehab?
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What will her quality of life be if she does resume eating? I agree with ASympathizer. She may be practicing benign neglect for herself to hasten the end of life. Unfortunately, medical treatments available today can keep people alive beyond what they feel they can endure here on earth. If she is a spiritual person, she may feel a much better world is waiting for her free from pain and with those she has lost. Sometimes I think we should not be selfish and try to keep people here when they are in pain and/or cannot be independent. The kindest, most loving thing you can do is to let her make her own decision to eat or not. Death is not the worst thing that can happen to a person. My own mother has Alzheimer's/dementia. It is a cruel, living death no one should have to endure.
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I'm not sure what part of the world you live in, but i'm in Australia and its difficult at times to advise because our medical system is so different to other parts of the world.
My mother is in hospital at the moment because she fell at home and broke her arm. She has never been a good eater and its always been a struggle to find ways to entice her to eat. Even in hospital, she rarely touches her food, so the doctors keep ordering Resource drinks for her to build her up. Even then, most times she just doesn't drink them. Short of putting her on an IV to feed her, there's not much staff or family can do to make her eat. Sadly, we have to stand by and watch her destroy her physical well-being.
Perhaps your grandma has lost the will to live any longer and she may see her only way out is to the one control she still has at present...to stop eating.
I know in Australia, if I were to admit grandma into hospital then they would hook her up to an IV, but perhaps that's not available where you are. I feel sorry that you have to stand by and watch her fade away. Never a good thing to have to deal with.
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