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Since my mother was placed in long term care 3 years ago. I have been very challenged with my father's behavior of taking extra food and snacks to her there. It was explained in the entrance meeting that the meals/food that my mother receives there is monitored by a dietician according to doctors guidelines and to help with weightloss to help extend her life. At the first meeting, I warned the nurses that he may do this as he had done this at the local hospital during her recovery from successful cancer surgery and the medical staff were kept wondering about why my mother's blood sugars fluctuating so badly. They eventually figured it out when they opened her side table drawers to get personal care items out when they found a stash of nuts, snacks, etc. As they knew she was off to long term care she was transfered with the basic medical info and the nursing home could figure it out. When I warned the nurses when my mother was moved to long term care, they sort of dismissed my concerns and advised me they would handle it. My mothers situation had changed as well because just over 3 years ago she was able to walk however with the cancer situation she picked up the MRSA infection that ended up attacking her heart and nerves at the base of her spine that in spite of surgery left her legs unable to hold her body up so therefore she has been wheelchair bound these last years. Any extra food packs on pounds which is difficult with her being diabetic,having congestive heart failure,and mainly only moving with difficulty her upper body. The MSRA infection that was under control before arriving at the nursing home has also affected her ability to think clearly, write and speak. The first year at the nursing home my mother gained nearly 35 pound putting her close to 300 lbs, and gained more weight with my father bringing in constant snacks, her weight has actually dropped by 25 lbs in the last year making it easier for her extra large clothes to fit. My father seems to think feeding my mother extra food won't hurt her and she is just having a treat but her blood sugars have been fluctuating erratically for months, just when I think I have my father convinced that giving her the wrong foods can literally kill her, he finds some way to justify it again. The nursing home continues to say she is better off eating what they provide only and then my father temporarily quits giving her snacks. In September after a family meeting at the nursing home with my mothers doctor and medical staff, suddenly my father asks at the meeting, "What snacks can I bring her from home" to which they said none. He even had a meeting with the dietician who advised no extra food. I couldn't even believe he was still thinking in those terms, I was totally disgusted. After that meeting, no snacks were given as she was so affected by months of extra calories and sugars she was becoming almost non-responsive at times, sleeping constantly and the nursing home was struggling with her blood sugars and adjusting her insulin. Lately we were advised to that her health was so poor that she was hallucinating and talking of passing herself. With her being so ill like this my fathers moods have been like a rollercoaster, sobbing and worrying whether she would die. She could be ready to pass or get better there is no guarantee right now. This whole situation has absolutely been the most frustrating thing, I feel sick to my stomach each time my father comes back from visiting my mother at the nursing home and he is semi-hysterical because he is afraid if she dies, he will have nothing to live for and die too which he is terribly afraid of. My father(80) becomes quite dispondent, very needy and frantic yet for some reason he doesn't seem to want to even consider his behaviors have very much contributed to my mother's present state of health. Suddenly at supper this evening he announces that he gave my mother an orange and told the nurse about it later, what could she do then. Then he suggested that if my mothers condition improves we should get a chinese food dinner (my mother loves the sweet sauces and such) and take it to my mother at the nursing home. He is attempting to have me agree with this, I am feeling rather shocked and a bit horrified with him right now after all of the ups and downs of the last months and all he can focus on is giving my 81 year old mother the types of foods that will continue to cause her health problems and very possible her death. Maybe on some level he thinks he is thinking he is trying to give her something she likes but guess who is going to have to deal with the fall out when my mother dies from eating something her system can't handle anymore. The ups and downs of all of this have affected my health, the constant worry about this situation. I have talked to a geriatric health person who advises me I am close to burnout. I talked to a pastoral care person bit I think its all in God's hands now.

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I appreciate what you are saying here, I guess I need to ask more questions at the nursing home. They offer a special Hospice Unit right in the nursing home, and Hospice services are available to family and residents there. The head nurse who gave the news about my mothers condition has advised us that if there are concerns about my mother's health we could see her or contact her just to talk.
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Cat, Hospice is not a place or certain rooms ... it is a service and an approach to care that can occur anywhere. My husband is on hospice care in our home. I understand about not wanting to move your mother, but I suggest asking about having the hospice organization visit her where she is.
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At the nursing home where my mother is residing there is a hospice area just down the hall actually situated between two units just step away from my mothers room. At that nursing home they often prefer to keep those that are getting ready to transition in the room they are staying in rather than moving the resident to Hospice as sometimes that move can be too much of an upheaval. Last week there was a private room available however at that time we asked my mother if she wanted a private to which she said no and she really liked her room-mate, they get along so well and keep each other company. At the time I thought it was a bit odd that the nursing home asked about a private room because my mother wasn't on a list for one by her choice. It crossed my mind at the time that they thought she might need a private but even a move a few doors down would have been too much for both parents as my father would be very stressed about the details. As my mother is wheelchair confined her space would be the same however with a huge washroom attached that she is unable to use. So she is best where she is. My mothers health troubles started back in 1999 and its been one crisis after the other since. We have been dealing with each health trouble as it came but this time, (my mother has bounced back each time), this time we finally know what the real concerns are and how final they are. I know that everything has been terribly hard on my mother but looking back life has been a constant roller coaster ride for family too, my father's health has declined by 50 percent and mine has declined too. But people do bounce back hanging on, lots multiple times before passing. I feel we have been mourning my mothers passing since 1999. All I can pray for, for my mother is to have a peaceful transition and I know that it will be difficult when she does leave.
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Cat, I am so sorry to hear of your mother's condition. Has hospice been contacted? They are a wonderful addition to the care team under these circumstances.
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Thanks for your suggestions, actually lately we have been doing that type of thing for my mom all along but will have to do more of that as a way to redirect away non-healthy foods. We just got the official word from the head nurse at the nursing home today is that my mother has untreatable kidney failure and it is a matter of time but they are keeping her comfortable. Its very unsetting but there is nothing we can do but wait.
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Cat1955, any chance of getting your father to give other kinds of treats to your mother? An interesting magazine, nice smelling lotion, pretty slipper-socks, etc? Would it help if he could still bring her something pleasant and not harmful?
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Thanks for your answer to my postings, I think you have really picked up on the dynamics with my parents, and what you have said about being children of the
Depression Era is so very true. Yes, my father is terribly lonely and he visits the nursing home every day, constantly gets the comments from other residents but especially the staff about what a faithful and devoted husband he is and how he cares so much for my mother. If my mother doesn't act in a completely accepting way responding to him in the way he wants even in her illness, he has some sort of a meltdown at home. Yes, the business about wanting to give my mother snacks. My father feeds her, her nursing home meals in their very public dining room at suppertime so its a little more complicated than not allowing him to be alone with my mother, the staff are looking on or are helping others with their meals. Of late with my mothers health being so up and down my father is afraid not to go to the nursing home to see her in case she died when he wasn't there. i have done my level best by warning staff, the staff have spoken directly to him but I do know that when he is reminded or given orders not to do something he will do exactly what he is asked not to do. My energies and patience are shot when it comes to this issue, but I guess I have to realize he is less mentally capable than he portrays. Both of my parents have always been very conditional people as far as affections are, only sharing unless there is something in it for them or we did something for them for acceptance. Both have been and are even in illness punitive in their actions to all family members playing siblings off on each other which also is incredibly tiring.
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Wow. Just from reading your posts, I'd say your parents have had a long-standing codependent relationship. If I'm right, what has happened is that your father has always gotten affection/attention/love from your mother when he's given her treats. Now that action/reaction is inextricably linked in his mind. Did your mother withhold love/attention/affection from your father when she didn't get what she wanted? If so, she "trained" him to behave like this. It's called operant conditioning. If that's what's happening, your father, whether suffering from dementia or not, is alone and scared. He needs comfort, and he's been "trained" to get it by giving your mother treats. At his age, you're most likely not going to break him out of it. You should probably just have him chaperoned every time he's around your mother.

Another possibility is that, as children of the Depression Era, they came to associate food, or being able to provide food, with safety, or being in control of the situation. Your dad might either be trying to show your mother that he loves her, or convince himself that he's "taking care of everything".

Either way, it's probably best that he not be alone with your mother anymore.
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Hi there,
Thanks for your comments, I really appreciate you reading through my very long first time posting here. In all honesty mostly I think it is that this is a long time habit however what you have suggested about checking my mothers dresser drawers has already been accomplished, I am there often enough I have removed anything stashed there. Even if my mother would have wanted to reach those things that once were there, she can't she is totally bed bound or daytime wheelchair bound, unless someone hand things to her. Since February my mother has also been fed as she is unable to lift her arms due to weakness. So unless someone actually feeds her or puts something directly into her mouth she couldn't be snacking on her own. Even though this sharing snacks has been a long time thing between my parents, with the number of times this has been discussed or been directed by medical staff, my father has behaved like a sneaky child and he will attempt to justify what he is doing. i really appreciate what you have said that he may need to be checked for some type of dementia, this feeding my mother has been an issue with our whole family with him. With my mother she has told him from time to time that she hasn't been fed her lunch or didn't get her snack, so at times he has been influenced by that which has encouraged somewhat. Today I spoke to him again, telling him that i really felt uncomfortable with him suggesting giving my mother chinese food and was very direct saying that if he wants to be directly responsible for her death then the responsibility was on him, to which he quickly said he had rethought feeding chinese food to my mother but said he wants to go out for a chinese dinner as he doesn't think my mother is well enough to eat chinese food. I told him yes he was right she was't well enough to eat anything besides what the nursing home dietician and doctor have set up as her diet. I have been on an appointment with my father to his doctor and his doctor suggests that my father could be depressed but because of the amount of medication my father is on presently could affect him more making him more dependent. I will talk to my doctor to get her take on this as an anti-depressant could be of help for my father, my opinion. My father also presents well at the doctors office so I need to start documenting behaviors too. Sometimes when we live with someone we slowly adjust and with ones own personal concerns and hoping the parent will understand eventually doesn't always work.
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Does your dad have some sort of dementia going here, or is it just out of habit that he does these things do you think? Maybe he really CAN'T understand the problem because of a mental problem like the beginning of dementia. Maybe he's the one that should be checked out by a doctor to make sure of this. After every single visit, someone should be going thru your mother's dresser drawers or whatever, and throwing out the food.
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