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My mom has been in assisted living for 5 weeks and she has lost 12 pounds during this time. She weighs only 80 pounds. Now she is refusing to eat and says that she doesn't want to eat because it will make her sick. She also seems to have no sense of taste and has difficulty swallowing. She won't drink any kind of shakes or nutritional drinks. I don't know what to do. She has vascular dementia and alzheimers. Could she be in the later stages of the disease even though she is still mobile and able to dress herself? She told me today that she didn't think she could live much longer like this.

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dementia patient refuses food saying they have eaten, but you know they haven't. What do you do?
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To the woman that her mother has a court guardian. Have her sign you as her Power Of Attorney. You will have more say than the guardian. Make sure she signs you as Medical and Financial Power of Attorney. They are two different things. All you need is the forms which you can print from on line and you will need a Notary.
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Treat the depression even if you don't know for sure she is depressed; there is one that is suppose to increase/help appetite, I am sorry I don't know the name. Eating alone also could be contributing.
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They (hospice) tell me when mom is nearing her time. She will refuse to eat or have no taste at all. She will also forget how to swallow. I'm sorry that this is getting hard. But she obviously has some indication to what is happening to her. God Bless.
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Forgot to mention - my mom told me that her taste buds get "bored" easily so I am always trying to come up with something to stimulate them. She loves anything with barbecue sauce (for now) and spices that have zing to them (in addition to sweets) she will eat up. I've heard that the taste buds do dull as they get older.
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My mom wouldn't eat a thing when she first came to live with me. I bought her ensure and mixed it with whole milk, that is all she would eat. after several weeks, she was in my car and I stopped at a fast food place and ordered a sliced beef sandwich. She smelled it in the bag and grabbed it, peeled off the wrapper and chomped it down like she was starving. The smell of the food was what enticed her to eat. She was on some medication that makes her taste buds dull. When I cook at home, she always want me to put just a little honey on everything, and she eats it up. Her favorite food is french toast with syrup. She actually ate two pieces this morning. Also, she won't eat much if I am watching her. But when I leave the room, she gobbles up the food.
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If she likes ice cream, give it to her.
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dear treatment time...omg who fed ur mom soup with the tube in...that's awful and i am sure you mom is scared to death....omg
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i have no experience with this but i am a mental health professional ; the new environment might be contributing to the change in her appetite; perhaps depressed but cannot articulate how she feels. perhaps a patch anti depressant to see if this is the cause


to the person whose mother has a guardian...how did mother obtain a guardian as opposed to you being poa for her?
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JudyJudy-what a sweet caregiver you are!
Abby33-Have you asked her why she thinks it will hurt her to eat? My MIL had a 911/ICU situation due to C-Diff infection. When she was healing she needed to eat real food but refused, combatively saying it would hurt her. What she was remembering was a visitor snuck food in and fed her soup--WITH AN N/G TUBE IN, so MIL had a horrible, near fatal setback. Due to the setback a different antibiotic was used (I had the same antibiotic through PICC so I could talk to her first hand) and it makes taste and smell have sulfuric odor & taste. Once I explained her fears and what she was basing them on was real, she agreed to try to eat. Starting with a couple bites a day, now she is in REHAB eating up a storm. We have to remember that even though their complaints seem unfounded to us, 99% of the time there is a valid reason behind them.....to them. Keep plugging away Abby....you have a great heart for her.
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I love what Judyjudy says. My MIL also at 92 has been uninterested in food except for sweets and has gone up and down about 10 pounds in her weight in the four years she's been in the nursing home. I am telling you, if I had to eat that stuff I would probably starve to death myself! It is terrible! And she was a home ec teacher for 45 years. Can you say COMFORT FOOD? There isn't any in this place. With such a limited scope in life anyway, food is one of the few pleasures she has to anticipate. At this point in her life if she wants dessert first or only, I think that's fine.
Interestingly, when she used to visit us and I cooked for her she would say that she couldn't 'taste anything' but she ate like a horse. So I have to assume it just tasted good to her. We spend so much time of our lives with food being the source of family, closeness, celebration and socialization and if we are good cooks, to have ALL of that removed in our old age kind of makes for a depressing scenario. When depression seeps in, often one of the first things to go is an appetite. Add to that bad tasting food, uninteresting company or being alone in one's room and not feeling all that great and it's easy to see why an elderly person wouldn't have a lot of interest.
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Try putting her on Remeron. Not only is it an antidepressant which she evidently is suffering from, but it is also an appetite stim. in the elderly and safer than Megace. You start with 1/2 pill (7 mg) and increase in a few days to 15. Then up to 30 if needed. It takes about 2 weeks but I was equally desperate with my mom and it's starting to work. Good luck.
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My mother doesn't eat much either but she will eat all kinds of sweets, which is something. I will give her Ensure and put ice cream in it to make it a shake. Also, more and more things upset her stomach and her swallowing capacity is diminishing so I try to make things that I think she will be able to swallow easily. Hope this helps a little.
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My mother has refused to eat in the dining room at the ALF. She does have some food sensitivities which they said they would address when she first went in, but in fact didn't. Honestly some of it was that she didn't like eating in the dining room - a big change from her own apartment. Her apt in the ALF has a decent kitchen, and she has someone shop for her and bring in the foods she wants. I live in another city so am not of much help in this kind of thing. For a while she cooked simple things for herself - she does not have dementia, was able to, but after her hip operation her doctor specified home care for life. She is 100. She gets stomach inflammation, so drinks lots of juices, uses ensure, eats a little rice and fish as she gets better, and then is able to eat a bit more. I have noticed that stress seems to trigger her stomach inflammation. As regards the swallowing, I would have her doctor it check out. Her disease may be more advanced. Institutional food is not the best - lots of processing, salt, sugar etc so it could make her sick. It has happened to some where mother is. Good luck and ket us know how t is going.
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What a loving, thoughtful "sweet" solution, I hope it works. You have given me ideas in helping my Mom find ways to remember what she might like to be doing when you mentioned asking what things they miss or wish they could be doing. My Mom doesn't have a lot of energy and doesn't instigate anything but when I take her out or create an activity she does enjoy it. I'm sometimes at a loss when trying to think of things which might inspire her but it actually doesn't take much.
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My mother doesn't eat well either the ALF where she is has to give her medication to make her want to eat, she still doesn't eat well. I am trying to get her released to live with me but am running into roadblocks with the court system they want to keep her their against her will. They know my mother wants to live with me and I could care for her much better. My mother is depressed this is why she doesn't eat well, I don't know what to do. Her court guardian is unethical and is not working in my mother's best interest. I have found continual lies between the guardian and the owner of the facility all to keep my mother there. I need to know my rights as a daughter.
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Is there any food,candy,icecream, cake etc that she used to love? I was able to get one of my elderly patients to eat by bringing him a homemade peach cobbler and taking him outside under the apple tree to eat it. He had not been out of his room for 4 years. I started by reminising about his childhood and the things he did as a kid, asked him about what foods he missed and on the next visit, brought him a homemade peach cobbler.I spent 3 hours talking about growing up in the South and the kinds of thngs kids did in his day, mischief he got into etc. I was peeling apples and he started asking me for slices and eating them. He had apple pie for dinner and after that started participating in life again. Sometimes a kitten or puppy brought for a visit along with a treat will stimulate them to see that life can still be good. Asking about the things they wish they wish they could do or miss doing helps sometimes, especially if there is a way to arrange for them to do it. Amusing audio books from the library can often lift their spirits.(Erma Bombeck is a good choice for women) Hot fudge sundaes and hmebaked cookies will sometimes work. Sweet is the last taste to go.Start with sweet things if she ever liked any kind of sweet. It should be home-made with as much flavor as possible. As for the shakes etc, I would try a home made one with real milk and icecream and possibly real frozen fruit. Ensure and that sort of thing simply are not as good. A banana split might work, or real hot chocolate, made the old fashioned way with real cocoa, sugar and half cream. Top it with a marshmallow. Basically, go back to the treats of her childhood. Corn syrup and soybean oil are not the same taste as sugar and butter and often leave a "chemical" after taste, so be sure to give her "real" home-made stuff instead of prepared food from a box or the supermarket. Good luck. Sometimes you have to start with just a few spoonfuls to rebuild the appetite. But do start with the treats and bring them along hot from the oven as a part of your visit and share them with her as you talk about her childhood.
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Has she had surgery recently? some forms of anethesia can cause temporary loss of sense of taste. also, have a speech therapist check her swallowing.
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were was your mom living before? She is upset because she is in a different
place.When my mom was in rehab she did the same thing
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If inflammation were the issue, what would you do about it?
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She may have some inflammation in her stomach. As people age, their immune system becomes weaker. Sometimes viruses or bacteria can infect and inflame the stomach, making it hard to eat much food.

Sometimes people are giving up on life, so lose their appetite. If you think this may be the case, talk to her and her doctors about what to do. Does her AL facility bring food to the room or are clients expected to go to a dining area? I wonder if having a certain person eating with her would encourage her to eat just a bit.
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