Grandma is "never hungry."

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Hello! My grandma will be 89 years old in May. I have been taking care of her since before I graduated high school, am her POA, emergency call person, etc. Point is I know my grandma. She was recently released from a week long stay at the hospital and it's almost as if she's given up. She's in bed all day, she's constantly exhausted, and she refuses to eat. I have tried making her favorite meals, bringing her favorite take out, soft foods, soup based, crunchy foods, bright colorful foods. She genuinely is never hungry. She has no energy any more because she won't eat, and I fear it's going to kill her. I have talked to her doctors about it and they all give me the typical "this is normal for her age" answer. If she doesn't eat she will have no energy. If she has no energy she won't want to get out of bed. If she can't get out of bed she'll want to do nothing but sleep all the time. When she only wants to sleep all the time she feels she has no quality of life. If she feels she has no quality of life....what's the point of living? It's as if every one has just given up on her and left it to being "she's old, that's why." I know my grandma. She is an angel, she is always smiling and will laugh the most genuine laugh at even the lamest jokes, she loves being outside and watching the birds out her front window. I refuse to give up on her even if she is so dang exhausted she feels the need to give up on herself. If I could just get her to eat....

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SupMarce, that’s great news! I first came to this site a few years ago for advice because my mom’s weight was down to 85 lbs. I was very worried.
She was still walking around and doing pretty well.
Now she is up to 108 lbs. It is such a huge relief.
A combination of regular hot meals, boost or ensure, and lots of little snacks, helps.
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Praise the Lord!! :)
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Ya'll. grandma ate 3 whole small meals today! 3! thank you all for your advice!
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Sometimes hospice can help. I know of a lady who was recently on hospice due to weight loss. She 'graduated' from hospice after they were able to help her gain enough weight and begin eating regularly.
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She has been out of the hospital for a little over a month now. I got her a hospital bed for home, along with other elder assistance type things. When she does eat it will be like...a small muffin. Her fridge is constantly fully stocked with Boost, which she likes. She can swallow fine. I talked to her about it today and she apologized for making me worry, but she simply is not hungry. She says it doesnt hurt to eat, nor does she has issues with her bowels, she just constantly feels full.

I dont just ask her if she's hungry, ill make dinner for us and my aunt, and she'll take maybe a bite or two (probably just for my purpose) and say how full she is. She does this when I bring her food from elseware so its not just my cooking lol.

Due to unfortunate family circumstances, about a year ago I moved an hour away from her. Her daughter lives with her and does the bare minimum for her in terms of care. I come down at least every other day to visit and take care of other things. I would rather quit my job and be her full time live in care taker than send her to a nursing home. I got my certification straight out of HS just for the purpose of being able to properly take care of her. I worked in 3 different nursing homes around our area and would NEVER send her to any of them, not to mention she has voiced her "send me to the ground before you send me to one of those places." opinion.

Thank you all for your kind words and suggestions, im sure we'll make it through this. I hope it's just my inner panic of the thought of losing her taking over and not actually anything too completely serious.
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Lack of appetite might be common, but unless it is tied to end of life (and I mean the last weeks) it needs to be dealt with just like any other medical condition. If she becomes frail from lack of food and movement it soon won't be that she won't move, it'll be that she won't be able to, which will mean life for her caregivers will get exponentially harder or she will need to go into a nursing home. Have you pointed this out to her, have you sat together and had this hard discussion?
Not wanting to eat is one of the more common questions here on AgingCare, you might want to search the site for past threads. If the cause is simply lack of desire for food then she can be encouraged to "keep her strength up", if only to please you. Keep a routine. Offer tiny amounts at meals and snacks often. Look for foods high in calories and nutrients. Add in supplements like Boost or Ensure. There are medications that can increase appetite. My mom benefited from mirtazapine, an anti depressant. And make sure her bowels are working properly, when things there are backed up nobody wants to eat!
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Marce, a long time ago, my FIL was in the hospital with kidney failure. He stopped eating. He told everyone " I can't eat!", saying it with increasing urgency every day. Family and friends brought all kinds of tempting stuff. " But I can't eat!", he'd say.

A psychiatric consult was sought. Psychiatrist brought in a speech pathologist who determined that he couldn't SWALLOW and was having difficulty using the correct words because he'd had a stroke.  (Please note, none of his other doctors suspected a stroke, just the psychiatrist, because of his odd way of expressing himself. Psychs pay attention).

Can grandma swallow her pills? Can she suck on a straw? Call her doctor and ask if a swallow study might be useful.
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Agree with Jeanne that she might be still recuperating from the health problem she had that made her stay at the hospital, at least on the energy level side of things..plus hospitals are so depressing! They can sadden the happiest soul!

I understand it’s very frustrating to hear doctors, nurses or people in general attributing everything to a person’s age! It’s actually disheartening.

Have you talked to your grandma and asked if she’s sad, depressed about something in particular? Or if she is in any physical pain or anything else alarming health wise? If she says no to both questions, maybe share with her your worry, tell her you’re concerned not only because she’s not eating but specially because of her “giving up” demeanor. See what she shares with you, which in turn might help you help her.

But after all that, I wouldn’t try to force her to eat. It’s true that you don’t have to be hungry to eat, so if the emotional/energy part was working well, she’d make a point to eat, even if not hungry. Have you tried Ensure? It is liquid and you can mix it with anything she might like, and it is nutritious.

But more than working on her eating, I’d focus on her feeling loved and to bring some joy to her life the best way you can!

We eat as part of life, so giving her back some enjoyment of life may change her approach to food, just don’t make food the center of the problem.

Aside from that, remember we all get tired! And we all certainly have the right to get tired after 89 years of fruitful life!
Actually getting tired means you’ve done a lot, a lot to be proud of!! I’d let her feel however she is feeling now, just being with her, supporting her and ensuring she feels your love and understanding will make a huge difference for your grandma!

A hug to you :)
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How long ago did Grandma get out of the hospital? What was she there for?

Being in a hospital is VERY hard on older folks. I found that when my husband came home from the hospital it would take another week or two for him to completely get over whatever put him in the hospital (pneumonia, for example), and then up to a month to get over the hospital experience. He had dementia, which makes things worse, but I think hospitalization takes a while to recover from for all elders.

So, hang in there! Grandma may still be slowly getting some strength back.

She must be eating SOMETHING, to keep her alive. What is it? Does she drink water or other beverages?

One doesn't necessarily have to be hungry to eat. I don't think my husband ever said he was hungry in his last 10 years. I'd ask if he'd join me for lunch and he'd say, "I could eat." Don't ask if Grandma is hungry. Tell her you are going to have your lunch and you'd like it if she would keep you company. Put a very small portion on her plate, "just in case you feel like eating," and don't fuss if she doesn't eat it.

My husband liked frozen fruit juice when nothing else appealed. Have you tried popsicles?

Does she have a hospital bed? That makes it easier to help people into and out of bed, and to sit up. Could it be placed near a window with birdfeeders outside? Give her something interesting to do right from bed. Also see about playing some music from the period when she was a teenager and young woman.

When your grandmother was born, life expectancy for women was 62 years. Grandma has lived a long life. I'm not suggesting that you "give up" on her, but maybe focus on how good it has been to have her this long, with her pleasant sense of humor. Make the most of what you still have with her.
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