What should I do so that she's happy, and I'm not going to lose my mind while cooking for my mother-in-law?

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So often when I'm cooking my mother in laws lunch or dinner, after its done she says she doesnt want that because she doesnt like it. I ONLY cook things I know she likes and has liked all her life.. I let her know ahead what I'm making and its o.k. with her until its done. She then decides that isnt what she wants. My husband thinks that is what she should have since its been made. Sometimes I feel bad and make her something else. Then sometimes she still gives me a hard time again. What should I do so that she's happy, and I'm not going to lose my mind???

Answers 1 to 4 of 4
ZZ, the poor woman has dementia. She doesn't know what she likes and doesn't like and what she said an hour ago or what she always used to prefer. This isn't something she is doing to annoy you, as I'm sure you know. As you've discovered, just making her something else may not make her happy, either.

Are there any standbys that are easy to keep on hand and that she'll usually eat? Cottage cheese and canned peaches? Peanutbutter and jelly sandwiches? Something that is easy for you but provides at least some nutrition if not happiness for her?

How about, "I'm sorry you are not in the mood for this right now. Let's set it aside and see if it seems more appealing later." Or just silently put it away, ready to be warmed for lunch tomorrow, and bring out the cottage cheese.

Minimize the extra work for you, and above all, don't take any of this personally.

(PS. My husband's dementia was sudden onset, and came on gangbusters. The "meltdown" episode that began it was in a restaurant, and included him ordering a dish that he had never liked, even after we'd all discussed what we were ordering and he'd picked out something he liked. When the waitress came it was if he had no memory of the food he liked or wanted. So I suspect the confusion over food is common in dementia. Maybe it makes it a teeny bit easier to know you are not alone.)
Zoey, how long of a memory does she have? If she's anything like my mother-in-law, all I'd have to do it wait 5 minutes, put the food in front of her again and she'd eat it. She wouldn't remember that she had said she didn't want to eat.
Top Answer
I agree with naheaton, remember how soon she will forget things & use that to your advantage. I've finally figured out that the more I try to reason with her , the longer she will stay worked up over it. Just say ok, remove the food & change the subject. Maybe then offer something else ( I like jello/fruit cups or cottage cheese- they work for her. She'll always eat an ice cream cone-takes her tongue on a 'sleigh ride') You may find that after all that, she may request what you made first (after all , the idea is already planted, she'll think she thought of it). Good luck with that. I do beleive that it is harder to cook for your mother in law, than anyone else! Usually we have some baggage from our early marriage years! Mine prides herself on being a kitchen guru. She's a terrible back seat driver , in the kitchen. It's actually getting easier , after 1&1/2 yrs, because she looses her train of thought, sometimes. I tell my grandkids it's like living with Dorie (on finding nemo). She's one of those 'delay' fish! I try to distract her like "look! something shiny !" Big hugs and prayers for you! You sound like such a considerate person. God sees when no one else does & He will bless you!! One day, it will be worth it all...
I will serve my Mother something she has eaten all her life and she will say, "I've never eaten this before!" She might have had it a week or two before and she will still say that sometimes. It just depends on the day I guess. Cannot control what she remembers and doesn't remember.

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