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My husband and I have cared for my parents for 5 years. My mum had Vascular Dementia and my dad Alzhiemers. We moved in last October after we could see they were struggling and my mum passed away 5 weeks ago today. After this an underlying problem has raised its ugly head. My Dad is a really noisy eater. I HATE being in the same room as him when he eats as he has some really bad habits. He makes a noise when he chews, it's like being at a zoo, and then he gets a drink and swishes it loudly around his teeth. Then he gets his little finger and pulls out food that gets stuck between his gum and his teeth. My husband is even less tolerant than me. But my Dad is all alone now and I can't find it in my heart to tell him not to eat with us. I tell him about it, over and over again. He knows it's disgusting. But as my mum used to suck her dentures after a meal.. they were good company and it's habitual. I adore my Dad but I hate this part of him.
We have our own lounge.. Its a conservatory that we were supposed to have for our own privacy. But Dad just follows us in. He has his own lounge and dining room. My brother lives here too but he's mildly autistic and lazy and my Dad doesn't get along with him.
Whenever I tell him. DAD please don't do that.. He'll say Oops sorry and then do it again a couple of minutes later. He'll try to do it behind the other hand. I've told him go on the bathroom but he takes no notice.
His memory isn't too bad.. He still goes for walks (he wears a name and address band and gets sent off on a safe path) he can dress and bath himself as long as I remind him and put his clothes out. He does remember he's not to do it.. He just hopes he'll get away with it each time.
I can't see any way out of this and its depressing me, I am grieving the loss of mum so much, Dad got fed up with her towards the end as she just slept but he misses her from time to time. Any help or ideas gratefully received.

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My father has the same poor manners - fingers in the mouth, smacking lips, eating with mouth open. My husband and I can no longer sit at the table with him during dinner. Our solution has been to eat at TV trays in front of the tv. The sound from the tv helps muffle his smacking noises and we are facing the tv versus looking at him while we eat. Maybe this could work for you?
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Isthisrealyreal Aug 2, 2020
Don't blame her actually. Being hen pecked when you are asking a legitimate question just sucks. Some people are truly struggling and being talked crap too on a "caregiver support" forum is more than they can cope with.

Too many new posters have been attacked over the last 6 months, either on the forum or in private messages that go way to far.
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Oh my gosh, I so get where you're coming from! I hate, hate, hate those annoying noises - sucking on teeth, chewing with mouth open, cracking gum, dripping faucets - snoring!!! happiest day of my life when my DH got his CPAP! - I start hearing those noises and I just can't shut them out! I get that directly from my dear ol' dad, who used to change subway cars while commuting to work if he heard anyone cracking gum! Heaven forbid we blew a bubble with bubble gum, it was immediately "spit it out!" No second chances!
I don't know what sort of helpful advice I can give you - sometimes if I can put on something in the background for noise - TV, music, etc. - I can focus on that rather than the irritating noise. Sometimes it helps. Sometimes not.
Do you think this is habitual in the way where he doesn't really notice what he's doing until you "remind" him? If that's the case, and this might sound really stupid, but if he wears a pair of gloves while he eats, it might remind him to *not* put his fingers in his mouth after a meal? Would he even be amenable to try it? Again, probably a really dumb idea...
I hope you can get some relief or ideas from a dentist/oral hygienist/etc. !
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I guess there just aren't answers to so many things that they do.My only suggestion would to let him eat alone, but then the consequence of that is that you"ll wind up feeling guilty which many be worse in the long run. Has he always done this or is it a new behavior? If it's new, then perhaps there is a med that can help.

My husband has the disgusting habit of taking a few bites of something then automatically going to the trash can and spitting it out, over and over. It's maddening.I used to just sit there and encourage him to swallow his food with some liquid. It was exhausting to try to get him to stop. It's not a physical thing, it's a mental habit. Yet sometimes his way of letting me know he doesn't like what I've given him.

He eats what he likes with no problem so I've stopped making excuses for him and offering multiple substitutes at each meal which is exhausting. Now I walk out of the room for 30 minutes and figure if he's hungry he'll eat. What's left on the plate goes in the trash.

However, sometimes medications can help. His Dr. prescribed Ativan low dose and it seems to cut down on the bizarre behaviors a bit.

Ask you doctor if his eating habits could be related to a change in his thinking , his physical condition or is just a plain nasty habit.

Good luck! I know how frustrating it can be and robs one of their emotional health. At some point we have to give up the idea we can control their behaviors and just accept them , but at the same time doing things, like stepping away to preserve our own well being.
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Avalynn I am so happy to read that he is using the oral products you got for him. Yea!!!

Well done lady!
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Bad eating habits actually nauseate me. I have to have peace when I eat. This comes from a father who picked his fights (like getting a D on my report card)at the dinner table. There is no arguing at my dinner table. Because of my Dad, my stomach gets upset if there is any kind of arguing. So, if it doesn't bother husband maybe you can eat somewhere else.

Dad coming into your space...maybe time to tell him "Dad, Joe and I need some time to ourselves. You know how that is" Maybe have a movie night with him joining in. If you want your privacy, you need to have boundries.

Now for your brother. You may want to find resources for him. There should be autistic agencies around you. If brother is not already collecting Social Security Disability he should be. Even SSI which is supplimental income. In my area there is a place where Autistic people live. Each having their own rooms. Could he live on his own? He could get a housing voucher. I have a nephew with multiple handicaps. I got help thru the state Disabilities Dept. His Coordinator and I feel he is high on the scale of Autism. TG he can live on his own for now but his prognosis is early onset Dementia. Since he is 30 and I'am 70, I may not be around when that happens. Eventually, his care may need to be turned over to the State since their is no one but me. In the meantime, I am trying to make sure he has people to help him if something happens to me.
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Avalynn, one more thought about what could be happening.

People that can't breathe through their nose tend to make a lot of noise while eating. Could dad be having seasonal allergies or was his face or nose ever injured?

My BIL was severely burned and he can't breathe through his nose, so he is really unpleasant to eat a meal with. Zoo noises are an accurate description.
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Bon appetite! You have a few different issues going on here.
1. you are dealing not only with Alzheimer's and all those problems, but probably a lifetime of less than perfect table manners that have manifested themselves during this period. Which one do you want to deal with first?
2. Table manners are hard enough with a toddler or young child. Older people usually know better but have no motivation to improve. You probably cant change it.
3. Is this a good time to reevaluate his living with you? It it so annoying to you and your spouse this hardly leads to a convivial home environment. Consider a memory care center, or even a daycare facility.
4. Finally you can have a sit-down face-to-face conversation about his manners, just as you would a child. He does seem coherent to outside voices.
5. A glass of wine for both you and your husband would be lovely. How about some engaging conversation between the two of you so that your Dad's behavior doesn't distract you as much.
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If it was left to him he'd never clean his teeth. But he gets handed a toothbrush morning and night and if I take him out. We spent 4 grand on his teeth a couple of years ago as his dentures were too big for his mouth. He's always picked at his teeth it's just now I have to see it. He did it tonight, immediately he'd finished his food. His finger goes straight in his mouth. Tonight I got up and walked out making my disgust obvious.!
Some of the points you raise though are interesting, and I'll give him tooth picks. Thank you.
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I have to ask...Would you rather him spit? That is what my Husband did.
You can tell him this is not appropriate for the table, you can tell him to chew quietly, you can tell him not to swish his drink in his mouth ....all you are going to do is frustrate yourself.
If it really bothers you maybe begin a schedule where your dad eats before you and your husband then you can monitor his eating, DON'T try to correct it. When he is done you can clear the table and have a quiet less stressful dinner.
There are lots of "quirks" that people do when dementia kicks in. The thing you have to do is try to ignore what you can. When it gets to be to much and the other care-giving gets to be more than you can handle you have to decide that maybe placement is the best option for you. Not a choice a lot of people want to make but sometimes it is the best option
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Avalynn62 Jul 30, 2020
These are not quirks through dementia. This is a lifelong habit. He's always done it, it's just got worse. And also now he doesn't eat with mum we can't get away from it like we did before.
I wouldn't place Dad anywhere. Mum stayed with us until the end which was what she wanted and Dad wants the same thing.
This isn't about him having alzhiemers or anything to do with it. He keeps me busy but I love him to bits. This is simply to ask for ideas as to his habit.
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My mother has eaten like this her entire life, ruining every meal we've shared together. She NOW has dementia, at 93, but didn't suffer from it when she was 40, 50, 60, 70 and 80 years old, and slurping her soup, loudly burping at the table, and literally licking her dinner plate after eating.

It is what it is. You are certainly not going to change your father's eating habits NOW, when he's suffering from Alzheimer's, let's face it. So your choice is to accept him as he is or eat in a different room. Because trying to 'teach' him different ways at THIS stage of the game is 100% unrealistic, and you know it.

Good luck!
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Avalynn62 Jul 30, 2020
Not helpful but thanks.
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I agree with both the answers you got!

Can dad still understand that you and DH need some quiet personal time? This may bear repeating over and over--and once a week, 'invite him' into your area for a meal..and just live with it.

If it's the sounds...we run Alexa with music when the g-kids are here and slurping mac'n'cheese and ruining our appetites.

My mom has slumped so badly over the years she now sits with her chin literally in her plate. She loves to go out to eat and it's pretty yucky to see her with food dripping off her chin...since COVID this hasn't been a problem, she doesn't know that many restaurants ARE open--with social distancing and I am not going to tell her.

Likely dad has always been this way. I know I had to 'train' my Dh how to behave in finer restaurants as his job required that he take customers out to eat. I really had to teach him to not talk with his mouth full, not start eating before the rest of the table had been served--to USE the napkin, etc. Funny--all my daughters had to do the same with their DH's. My son knew table manners from the age of 3!!

I would have your dad's teeth checked out for good bite and no cavities into which chunks of food can get lodged. That's just good hygiene--and possibly he chews like that to accommodate something that can be fixed.

I wish you luck--I remember one business 'picnic' where I sat across the table from a gent eating corn on the cob--and talking a mile a minute. I was liberally spattered with this guy's meal. It's been 40 years but I remember it like it was yesterday.
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It's not him. It's you. :(

I truly do feel for you, please don't think I don't. My mother's and my former partner's little tics drove me up the wall and ruined every meal time - him with his slurping and her with her dry irritating cough...

But the reason I say it's you and not him is this. You've been living with him for five years. I doubt if he's doing anything differently. But your skin is wafer-thin, and the tension in the house must be sky-high, and right now his "little ways" are more than you can bear.

Is there any way that you and DH can get away for a little break?
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Avalynn62 Jul 30, 2020
My Dad and I laugh together all the time. I'm easy going, so is hubbie, I sit with Dad building miniature houses which he loves, taking him for walks and to the beach.
It's just his eating habits getting to us. He KNOWS he shouldn't do it because he often puts his other hand up to his face to try and hide what it's doing. Or he turns his head.
My mum has just died. She called me all hours and at the end I got only 3-4 hours a night, if that. I had to clean her after using the toilet and attend to all her personal care. I didn't get respite, and she had asked me not to put her into a home so it was never a consideration. I say this just so you get an idea of what a close family we are. No thin skin here. Just a happy family, aside from the odd comment my Dad makes to my brother, which he takes no notice of.
I think I'll take him back to the hygienist. Maybe that's the way forward.
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Bless you for the last 5 years
of loving care. I can't imagine caring for two parents with dementia!
Yes, Dad's got some gross eating habits. He probably always had the noisy chewing and maybe Mom could get him to control that. But now, with Alzheimers, he may not recall that 2 minutes ago you asked him not to do that. He just does not have the ability to remember, thanks to AD. His brain does not have the capacity to create the memory "don't do that". So, you will never get it to stop. Your best solution is probably to suck up and accept it.
Dad is still grieving, and you too, so taking meals together is important. But limiting it to one meal a day is reasonable. When you are ready to have your meal, set Dad up with something to do, or his own meal in his dining area. Saying that you and hubby are eating together with no further explanation might work. Spend some nice time with Dad before eating, playing a game or looking at photos. Then you can make an exit for your meal.
My Dad with AD has a very disgusting eating habit that might just have yours beat! (Not that it's a competition). He pockets food in his cheek, chews and chews and chews, then spits the mess out on his plate. Very gross. I have learned to ignore it, with effort. And a lot more gross things are to come. Inability to bathe and bathroom unassisted, adult diapers, and the dreaded bowel incontinence. All in all, noisy chewing and removing lodged food in teeth is pretty mild. As his disease progresses so will the gross stuff. There's nothing to do about it except remember you adore him and want the best for him. Adopt an accepting attitude. And relish the quiet dinners you share with your husband.
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Avalynn62 Jul 30, 2020
It's been a sacrifice but also a privilege to look after my parents. At the beginning we used to go back to our house for the odd weekend but it became impossible.
This is something we've put up with for years but I used to sit him to eat his dinner with mum so it wasn't as bad. We used to say about it then but it's like watching a magnet ad his finger goes in to his mouth. I will check his aural hygiene again and take him back to the hygienist again.
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I would check out his oral care routine.

When our teeth are not brushed or cleaned routinely and properly they become food traps and that is what it sounds like your dad is dealing with.

Get him some dental picks, floss or a water pic and a good quality toothbrush, then you have to help him learn how to do all of this correctly. It will help with the table issue of trying to get food out of his teeth.

I would also tell him that he has to do these things and stop being disgusting at the table or he can't eat with you guys. If he remembers and is just trying to get away with something then you need to be firm and put your foot down every time, like when you see him starting the behavior tell him to stop, 10x if needed at every meal.

I would venture to say that he is dealing with some cognitive decline and he isn't intentionally doing this, it's a life time habit and his brain is trained to do these things.

I am sorry for your loss and I pray that God grants you all strength and wisdom to find your way forward that works for all of you.

It is okay to have meals that dad isn't included in. You have to continue to nurture your marriage and yourself or you will not be able to effectively manage the situation with your dad and brother. Do not make the mistake of replacing your mom in his life. He is now a widower and he needs to learn to be alone with himself or find ways that don't include you to be active. You and your husband will grow to resent him if you don't enforce healthy boundaries starting now.
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