I'm alarmed by my mom's loss of appetite. What should we do?

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My mom is 84 and had a stroke last May, which has left her wheelchair-bound and with 24/7 care at home. She can speak and eat and mostly has her marbles (short-term memory is bad). She has always had a big appetite-- for food, for drink, and for life in general. Even after the stroke, she would eat a lot, want dessert, and want 2 drinks. Now we go out to dinner and she has one drink, and maybe 3 bites of food. I asked her if she is trying to starve herself to death and she laughed. She still has a huge life force, but not much appetite. Her home aide says she eats a pretty good breakfast, but mostly has Ensures for the rest of the day. She did have breast cancer a few years ago, so maybe that is recurring?? I guess I will call her oncologist, although not sure what she would do at this point.

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You really need to bring this up to your doctor. It could be caused by another condition such as a UTI, or Gerd. Although my Grandma has the same problem because of her dementia. What we do is let her eat what she wants, and then take it away. Then a couple minutes later we bring it back telling her its dinner time. The second time and third time we feed her, instead of letting her feed herself. We've been able to get her to eat a little more that way, because she forgets that she had just eaten. In the past 2 months she has gone from 170 to 150 and still losing weight. I'm not saying that food trick will work for you, but it's worth a shot to try and get her eating a little bit more. My Grandma only takes 3-5 bites of food at a time, then she refuses anymore. I know she's 91 and doesn't require a lot of food, but any food is better than no food. Something that she might enjoy is pouches of fruit sauce such as Beach nut's fruites on the go. The cost around $1 each, but they have a ton of fruits, and she drinks it rather than having to use a spoon or fork. Or try ensures. Both of those have been life savors for me.
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Well, a nurse is coming to evaluate her for continued home care next week, so I'll ask her about that.

I guess sneaking an antidepressant into her meds is not the right thing to do for her mood. Her affect is so flat and the look in her eyes is so blank. She still enjoys her few visitors. The one thing she really enjoys lately is having me google things and people and listening to me read about them. Today we started with Joan of Arc and somehow ended up with Watergate!
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Hi xinabess, I would think so but since being on this site for several years I've read of many cases where there doesn't seem to be any overt symptoms...Like pain when urinating, or itching etc.
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Thanks, Linda, but wouldn't she have other symptoms if she had a UTI?
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I do think your mom should be checked out, just to be sure nothing like a UTI is going on. I sometimes, also lose my appetite for variable periods of time. Or I should say I 'feel' full and just don't want to eat. Then my appetite will re-appear. To be honest, I do have have a low-grade depression going on most of the time but I don't think it's that. In the meantime make sure she drinks enough water so that she doesn't get dehydrated and offer her small amounts of chilled fruits (or anything that is light that she likes). When I go through my phase of this just the thought of a heavy or full meal will make me less likely to want to eat. I wish I could help more. Blessings to you, Lindaz.
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She pretty much is only having Ensure for every meal now. She really enjoys those, but she still eats hardly any real food. And she wants to lie in bed all day. She doesn't want to take the Remeron her dr suggested for depression and loss of appetite, since she is of that era where you don't take those things. I am tempted to add them to her nightly pills, which she might or might not notice. I know that seems wrong, but I can see she is depressed. I don't blame her, but she could be enjoying life more than she seems to be at the moment. (She has no trouble swallowing or chewing, btw.) Last night I was there and she had 3 glasses of Prosecco with a chaser of Ensure!
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Xinabess, try asking your mother very specifically if she feels full straight away, after only two or three bites; and report her exact answer to the doctor. Feelings of fullness aren't quite the same as loss of appetite; so if that is the case the doctor may have different questions for you.

It's just something to check, not to be alarmed about.
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Thanks, everyone. My mom started out quite heavy, so she is not a skeleton by any means, but she has lost a lot of weight. It's ironic that she tried to go on diets for her entire life and never succeeded, yet here she is losing weight without trying to.

I called her doctor, who asked me a bunch of questions: Do her teeth or tongue hurt, is she in pain, does she seem depressed? The only one that might be true is that she's depressed - although she insists she's not and she is eager to see the few people in her life and get out for a bit when she can. (She has 24/7 aides.) Doc suggested prescribing Remeron, an antidepressant that also stimulates appetite. Mom says she doesn't want that. Aides say she tends to eat one big meal and then Ensure (which she likes) for the rest. So I guess that's it for now. What's crazy is we go out to eat 2x a week when I visit. She orders a pricey entree (we're in NYC) and a vodka on the rocks. Eats 3 bites of the food (but drinks all of the vodka!) and says she's done. I keep encouraging her to get an appetizer instead. Anyway, I always take the leftovers and either I or one of my kids eats them.
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Heck, husband and I are in our mid-60s and you'd think at this time of life with a few years left, and (presently) plenty of disposable income, we would be making the most of it as far as food goes! Unfortunately, we just can't eat like we used to! I make as much dinner as I used to and he can't finish his portion. We go out to eat, and after the salad and the appetizer, most of our entrees come home with us. So it's no surprise as we age, our eating habits change. My mother ate very little, just pushed stuff around when she was in her 80's. And she always enjoyed the Chinese buffet so much before the dementia :-( . My husband's mother had very high cholesterol in her late 70's and was given a strict diet, but she said "I don't care, I've lived a long time and I'm going out happy.".....just some thoughts.... Making milkshakes with some protein powder might be good. (I think Ensure tastes like a vitamin pill :- p ).
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When my grandma loses her appetite she usually has something wrong with her. It's one of the first signs she has a cold, UTI or something else going on with her or is just constipated. She eats really well on a daily basis only sometimes changing up a night time snack once in a while (she's diabetic). She has her ups and downs according to food. She had thrush once due to being on so many antibiotics trying to get rid of UTIs and that made her not want to eat. Don't give up hope. Have a doctor check her out and see if she's healthy otherwise and try her with her favorite foods. Around my house things she doesn't have to chew much is huge with her especially recovering from pneumonia. She loves her soups, soft bread tuna sandwiches, peanut butter breads ripped into pieces, soft muffins, eggs and soft pasta. Aging is hard to watch. I wish you luck.
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