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I put my mother into assisted living in August. She will be 88 this year and is in good health with the exception of some arthritis and minor dimentia.
I will be honest in saying that i love my mother but she has been a sarcastic and manipulative person all of her life. She can also be very dramatic. She has lived with me for the last 20 plus years and really never made an effort to associate or have a life outside of controlling me. She was never mean but knew how to push my buttons.
I could give many more details but I won't unless asked.
Anyhow, this assisted living facility is fantastic. It is beautiful, clean, and they serve 3 meals a day. Compared to others I looked at this is like the Hilton Hotel!
My mother will NOT get up and walk across the hall to eat meals. She refuses to get up and go to breakfast, 9 times out of 10 will not go to lunch and now I find out she has them bring dinner to her room. She may eat 1/4 of it and throw the rest away. She will not make any effort to participate in activities.
There is nothing wrong with her stomach or appetite. She is able to walk.
My mother has me bring her Quaker Oats cereal bars with yogurt 2-3 boxes a week and ice cream. She has no problem eating these.
Sorry to ramble but this past weekend when I was there (she is 1/2 mile away so this is often) she had not gone to any meals that day and told me that when they brought her dinner they mentioned to her that her daughter was going to be upset with her not coming for meals and she looked at me with a very smug look and said "I told them I don't care".
I was quite hacked and replied that if she didn't care then neither did I and I left.
I think my mother knows exactly what she is doing.
This angers me because we went through a LOT of trouble to get her into this place. She makes no effort at all to be the least bit happy.
I did not expect her personality to change but her big complaint before going was that she was left home alone too much (I have a life).
My question is that I am torn. At 88 do I just take her the snack crap food to eat when she tells me she wants it and just be happy she's alive or stop taking this stuff and hope that she'll go for meals??
Someone suggested taking a cereal bar away for each meal she doesn't go eat.
I love my mother but I am not liking her much anymore.

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I would bring her treats, or ask the staff about giving her choices of foods to bring to her room. When my mom was in rehab she NEVER ate with others the last couple of times. They gave her choices and she was much happier eating alone. I feel at their age they should eat what they want. Maybe you could bring extra treats and have the staff give them to her on the days you can't make it.
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Can you imagine having her at your dining table? Everyone else is trying to get along as best that they can, too.
My mother is in a NH and going to the dining room is not optional. They don't allow eating in the room. (I suppose it depends on your condition, but my mother has to go to the dining room.) Eating a balanced meal has helped my Mother's attitude and health 100%. Good luck and don't let her manipulate her.
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Thank you everyone for your time. I can see both sides of this as you all make good points. Its difficult for me as I am very healthy and work for a health/nutrition based company so naturally I am a bit more concerned with what she is eating than most.
I think what I have realized is that when she angers me with her manipulative tactics I feel anger flaring inside me for MANY things she has done in the past that I personally need to deal with.
I am going to contact my health insurance through my work and get some counseling for this. Thank you for the little push I obviously needed to take this step.
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Wow great post. Just reading the responses has encouraged me on my situation with my mom.
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Well, another day I didn't visit the NH where mom is. It's really the hardest thing I have experienced up to this point. Especially with dad here and her there. Having to watch this unfold before my eyes. You really do reverse positions, as parent and child. I am their parent now, but I don't feel like it. I will always be the child and feel incompetent as to everything I do for them. I feel like my dad is thinking, "Why aren't you down at there visiting your mom and making all this right by bringing her home and tending to her every need." I am screaming in my head, "Why didn't you drink and smoke less, and buy insurance to have the proper care in your old age?" Why do I blame myself for this mess? I didn't cause their health problems. I have given them both the past 8 years, and kept them in their home. I can't do anymore. I have suffered horribly from this too. Does that matter?
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Hi. I sympathize with you. I too feel so guilty with my mom in NH, and dad moping here at the house. We have did all we can for our parents. We can't live their life for them, and we too may face these same circumstances. It's their decision how they accept what is going on. Yes, my mom has had these strokes, but I didn't do it to her. I don't want her to be in the NH anymore than she wants it, but she too had to do the same to her mother when the care needed exceeded what can be given at home. Now, my mother is safe, warm, cared for, fed, has a roof over her head, etc.... This is what we are to make sure happens as their children. Just like you said, your mom wasn't happy at home either, my mom wasn't as well. It's horrible what old age does to people, and some things are worse than death at this point, but, it's out of our control. Let your mom eat what she likes at this point. If that makes her feel better. I know how you feel, and we don't need to feel that way.
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Short answer: She's 88 years old and in my opinion she's earned the right to eat whatever she likes. Long answer depends on your objective for wanting to change her behavior. Is it because you don't like her manipulative tactics? If so, then you're beating a dead horse. She's always been this way, and it isn't likely that she'll change now. Please keep in mind that you aren't responsible for your mom's happiness. You've done your best for her, and it's time to let the past go and just let her be who she is. If it isn't a big inconvenience to provide her favorite snack foods, then keep it up as long as it makes her happy. The only behaviors I'd worry about are those that might harm others or get her kicked out of the facility. So my advice is to choose your battles and let the minor stuff go. It sounds like she's being well taken care of, so let yourself relax and enjoy your life. Best wishes to you and your mom.
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I would continue the snacks, she may not want or like to be social. Most elderly look at others as being old and frail and many prefer not to hang with a bunch of old people.
Treats are not too much to ask for, having said that, so what if you are enabling sub optimal nutrition, she likes treats over low sodium food. NO GUILT! She is in the right place, you deserve a life. Shake off any negativity. Being old sucks, but that is not your fault and the alternative to aging is not all that attractive either. She is lucky to have you visiting and caring and to be in a nice place.
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Wow, I keep telling people to walk out when the abuse starts, but you actually did it on your own! Good girl! Now keep that boundary in place! The snack thing is just her way of manipulating and controlling both you and the home.
She's being the pouty little girl who won't come out and play. Let them handle her mood swings, she's not the first client to throw tantrums. She will come around when she sees no one will give in to her. Stand your ground!!!
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First of all, praise to you for taking care of her for so long. My mother has been in AL since July 2013. It was not given to her as an option to not go to meals. I live 2 hours away from the AL but my sister lives near it. She calls me the most, because I use to be the "push over". I have had to learn through the 2 years of dementia to think " what is best for her". I had to attend some support groups and a counselor to get to this point and believe me it still isn't easy. But now when she calls and doesn't want to go to a meal, I tell her that she has to in order to take her medicine and that she will get hungry before it is time to eat the next meal.
The counselors told me that you have to think and treat her as a toddler.
So here is the question for you.... would you allow a child to eat only junk food or would they be required to eat meals?
Don't get me wrong, I understand how you feel. You are at the point of "whatever makes you happy". But as I am learning the hard way, a lot of it is for attention.
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Thanks Geewiz. Are there counselors for the elderly if they are depressed? She has gotten anti-depressives from the doctor in the past and we have also arranged for counseling on more than one occasion (before she went into assisted living). Each time she went twice and wouldn't go anymore.
These things are what makes me angry and then I feel guilty. When it comes to trying to do anything to make herself happy she won't even try. But when it comes to manipulating me she seems as sharp as a tack.
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Many seniors in such facilities skip some of the meals. As they age, they really don't require 3 huge meals a day. The facilities I have experience with, tend to serve fairly comprehensive meals with the idea that if a resident makes even one, they will get most of what they need.

The fact that she is skipping all sends a different message. I would certainly NOT bring ice cream or non nutritious items. That alone may force her to go to the dining room where desserts are available! You can leave smaller quanities of the other items as a supplement (2-3 cereal bars and yoghurt). I would never leave her with boxes of items. Again, pushing her to the dining room. If you can co-ordinate a visit at meal time, join her for the meal in the dining room. "Come Mom, I missed breakfast and I'll join you for lunch." There are actually cases of seniors 'bullying' others! Watch the dynamics and observe those at her table. (You may have to let the dining room know you will be there for the meal.)

Finally, it may be time to have her asseded medically for a 'mood elevator'. Many seniors are suffering from depression because no one wants to discuss it! Good luck.
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