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My 80 yr old mother with mild/moderate dementia asks my dad constantly throughout the day what he wants for dinner. She goes through the fridge and freezer all day and takes food out or puts frozen food in the fridge. Food is getting spoiled and wasted. Dad wants to put a lock on the fridge. Any suggestions as to what to do? It's driving my dad crazy.

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My mom, 95 with dementia, hasn't cooked in years. She is in a nursing home now, and I have observed what important topics food and cooking are to many of the people there. She loves to look at magazines with recipes and food pictures. Sometimes when I visit I bring cookbooks. Other ladies enjoy them, too, and I can get a conversation going about cooking.

When they were cooking they were healthy and strong and smart and other people relied on them. Cooking was nurturing others. No wonder it is a valued memory.

Mom had a uti which made her memory even worse. We were at a craft session with several residents and a couple of staff people. My mom started fussing that she didn't know what to make for supper and she better decide soon in case she had to go to the store. Nobody pointed out that all her meals were provided. I said, "What were some of the things you used to like to make for dinner when us kids were little?" And soon everyone was talking about their cooking days, including the staff.

tbumpy, I think your mom needs a little more monitoring in her home, so frozen meat does not wind up in the silverware drawer. But if it does, consider that part of the cost of keeping her at home. If it is severe, perhaps a lock for the refrigerator is in order, but I hope you and your dad can help her through this phase without frustrating the poor gal.

Instead of telling her "I'm taking care of dinner" it might be kind if Dad could talk to her about food. "You've always been such a good cook! We are lucky family that you've taken such good care of us all these years. One of my favorite things for you to cook was your mother's recipe for macaroni with potatoes. Lordy, we haven't had that for years! I remember the time ..."

Affirm her need to feel useful and to do the nurturing without, let's hope, having frozen peas in the flour canister.

And I have learned to never start a conversation "Remember when ..." I've trained myself to say "I remember when ... you made gravy and it turned out too pale so you tried food colors in it ..." and tell the story. It should not sound like a test of her memory but as a funny/cute/amazing story.

tbumpy, this behavior is repeated often. That can be VERY annoying and frustrating for you. But it also gives you and Dad an opportunity to plan some answers and diversions and distractions to use when the topic comes up.

I am sorry you are going through this. Feel proud of caring for your dear mom!
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Their behaviors aren't going to change. someone has to be there full time to monitor what they do. My dad does weird things too. Put the frozen potstoes in the cabinet. Put yogurt in the freezer. Constantly buys discounted meat but never cooks. He just doesn't know better. Too many things to write about. We are just reluctant to move in with him because he is so stubborn and difficult.
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My dad repeats the names of all family members who have died. His 6 brothers and sisters, my mom and 2 brothers, and his brother and sister in laws plus his parents and inlaws. He says I'm the last one, titally forgetting that I'm still here! I keep strong most of the time but sometimes it is so depressing I leave and go cry somewhere. And he repeats a lot of other stuff too. I listen and comment back.
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I also am used to my mother-in-law also asking the same questions over and over again, but tbumpy was also talking about her mother leaving food out to spoil cause she think she's doing the cooking. But she also said her mother has NOT cooked in months. How does one stop her from leaving food out?
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Dear Isabelcares,
Your mom is repeating an action she had done over many years. Think about the many times she has cooked a meal for her family. This is a comfort zone for her. She is on "auto pilot" . Mb engaging her might help. A empty pot and spoon or some little task she can help with in the kitchen may satisfy her. In her world she is trying to be useful, not knowing she is making everyone around her crazy. Hope this help. Lots of luck. SD
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ED, thank you for the wisdom in your reply and the article information as well. You also reminded me to keep praying for wisdom knowing that it will, and does come when earnestly sought.
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my mom is 88 and repeats things over and over. it's hard not to get upset about it. i don't even know how to respond to her anymore i've heard the same things so often. it's really upsetting and sometimes it's worst than others.
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just let her ask ,if you say something to her she will think or say you are crazy--you might need to let her doctor know about it and maybe she may be tested for early statges of alzehimers
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Ah my mom does the same thing. I just keep on answering it, over and over and over. Every now and then she'll ask me if she already asked me that question, I say yeah but it's OK mom, then sometimes we have a little laugh about it.

It is nerveracking but what can you do....just be glad she can still speak, that's what I think about it.
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BUMPY:

Almost three years ago Venice Kichura wrote an article titled "How To Talk to Your Elderly Parent Without Losing Your Mind." As I understood it, it's extremely difficult to deal with a parent whose memory's shot, seems stuck in a time warp, keeps asking the same questions over and over, and still tries to feel useful by helping around the house.

It's not easy, and there's very little you can do. Because you love her deeply and respect her as a parent, eventually you'll realize that life is much harder for her than it is for you. In the meantime, hang in there. Keep praying for strength ... and wisdom. It'll come.

My thoughts are with you, and don't be a stranger now.

-- ED
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The thing is, my dad always cooks. Every time she asks, he tells her not to worry about it - that he's going to make something or get something. She hasn't cooked for months now.
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Maybe it's time to check into Meals on Wheels on a daily basis so she doesn't have to cook. Or how about someone to come to their house and cook for them? She evidently is not able to cook anymore. It's too overwhelming for her to plan a meal and remember that plan.
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