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90 yr old woman, with heart problem, depression, anxiety and diabetes which I keep under control with diet (the dr took her off all meds when she moved in with me, while living alone 10 yrs ago she was on meds because she ate wrong), except for some time now she has been midnight eating. She will raid the cookie jar or bread box like crazy. In front of people (anyone) she acts like she just can't eat, like a poor little thing, but she eats a lot when no one is looking. She weighs between 190-195 lbs. She barely eats 1000 calories a day that anyone sees, but eats a lot when no one is looking. I can hear her in the kitchen at night, I even saw her there, she is awake and looking for foods to bring back to her room. I have not approached her because my children think I will scare her and she will fall (again, she's broken bones in other falls). So we let this go, but she is gaining weight and it is affecting her. The dr said she does not take any pill that would cause this (she had the same thing when on sleeping pills). She naps a great deal during the day, and complains she doesn't sleep at night. She barely moves around (using her walker) during the day, she says her legs just won't move. (Although we had the PT here some months ago and she states that her legs are strong.) It seems she just doesn't want to move around during the day, but is quite capable moving at night. I'm worried about what the eating is doing to her, she has gained 20 lbs in 6 months and her blood sugar is too high. The dr wants me to control her carbs and salt intake, but how do I do that when most of what she eats I have nothing to do with? My son-in-law wants me to put a lock on the pantry, is that the only way? It's not that I have all this unhealthy food in my home, but I do have some cookies and chips, stuff she knows she should not be eating. Any suggestions?

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This won't answer your question, but it is something to think about. My mom smoked right up until she became bedridden/delerious. We could have stopped her but, as she put it, "I have no other pleasures in my life anymore and if smoking gives me a little pleasure I'm not giving it up." And we couldn't argue - at that age, to be honest, there's not much left to look forward to...I think if I were that age with those problems, knowing the end is not too far off, I'd eat whatever I darn well pleased for the sheer pleasure of it. Just my opinion...
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Change doctors. See a geriatrician.

I wonder what would happen if she did not have an audience for every meal? If you told her the food was in the kitchen, help yourself, and how about sitting at that little table near the living room window?

She is depressed and you don't want to isolate her. She shouldn't eat every meal alone. But maybe having one meal to herself each day, where she controls how much and what she eats, and no one watches her, would feel empowering to her. You can provide her company and companionship at other times. When you leave the food in the kitchen for her, leave out the package of cookies and/or the bag of chips. Let her help herself, just as she does in her nightly kitchen raids.

Would this help? I don't know, but I think it would be worth a try for a few weeks.
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Water aerobic class is out of the question. Any senior class is out, she is very depressed and has been on different antidepressants for 30 yrs. She tells you she hasn't been well in 50 yr! I almost believe she enjoys the attention from being sick or in need. She wouldn't go to any senior citizen activity, I have suggest this before. I guess I'll just try to keep foods she shouldn't eat away from her, but the dr wants her consumption of salt so low that that means regular bread or crackers which I usually have on hand, so it's difficult.
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Maybe you could get your mom involved in a day program like a senior aerobic water class, they have people in their nineties involved, it keeps them active and eliminates the sore muscles, burns calories, boosts mood, develops camaraderie, well that is if you can get her there, works for my friend who just turned 80, she calls them the bingo water babes, funny. My mother was afraid of water all of her life though. My mother did the same thing, she claimed to not have much of an appetite, but she'd stash things under her pillow and in her drawers. I'd try to keep her up and active in the day, give her treats during the day with reason, don't deprive her of anything, by bed time she may be tired. She also could for some crazy reason try to rationalize her weight in front of others. Is she depressed? Wellbutrin works wonders and makes people lose weight, it has been used too for smoking cessation, and everyone loses weight and depression improves, more activity.
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I agree it is likely a bid for attention, for control. Smikulick, you'll just have to find a good hiding place for the few goodies you keep around for the grandkids! Get one of those cans (as used sometimes for chips), stash the goodies in it and stick it high up in your bedroom closet, out of her reach, or in the garage. You can't control her nightly roaming looking for food, but you can control what is available for her to munch on. :)
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It's not that I restrict her diet so much during the day, she and I eat the same things. I try to cook healthy. She makes a big (very big) deal about not wanting much food on her plate. I think it's all for show, even when she just has an audience of one (me). When she has a bigger audience she makes a bigger deal out of not wanting to eat because she's not hungry. It's a mental thing, I just don't know how to control it. I've left healthy things out for her, but I do have sweets for when the grandkids come to visit and she bypasses the things with low salt (she retains fluid a lot) and goes for the packaged cookies.
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By the way, a doctor who expects you to control her diet doesn't understand the caregiving dynamics very well. A geriatrician might be a better bet.
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Maybe your daytime diet is way too strict for her. Maybe she could have a few chips with her sandwich at lunch, and a small dessert with dinner, and a scoop of ice cream before she goes to bed.

Food is not just about nutrition and health, it is about pleasure and satisfaction, and mental health. There should be no food she absolutely has to give up -- it is a matter of carbs consumed, and that is usually a matter of portion size. It would be sad to be 90 years old and feel like you had to sneak the foods you like!

The weight gain and the total weight and the high blood sugars are a matter of health concern. I would say based on that that the doctor's new strategy is not working. She is not healthier now. So, time for a new strategy. Maybe eating a little "wrong" but being satisfied and eating less, and going back on a diabetes pill, would ultimately be healthier. You are just trying to avoid complications. There is more than one way to do that. Nobody hands out gold stars for not taking a pill or even insulin if that is what it takes to keep the blood sugars down. And even if she ate "perfectly" there are no guarantees that the blood sugars would stabilize at a good level. Giving up the pills was a good experiment. It failed. Try something else.
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Is it possible she's getting hungry at night (since she's not eating much during the day) and just goes for what looks best? Can you give her a good healthy snack before she goes to bed, so that she can sleep through the night? If she doesn't have dementia, then I don't think I'd lock food away from her. I'd just try to figure out other ways to go.

Maybe put some healthy snacks on her nightstand, so she can stay in her room and eat them if she wakes up. Yogurt, cheese and crackers, some kind of low fat muffin...some fruit...something that she'd like but that won't elevate her blood sugars. That's what I'd try first.
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I hid and threw away all the bad food in the house. My mum found the flour and made cookies sometimes you just cant win. ive thought about locking up her bread which seems to be her drug?
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LOL thats what my grandma used to do WHY? for attention!!! shed get up at 5am stuff her face then have her whole family worried sick as she just wasnt eating at the table until.....a little six year old girl told them that she gets up and eats! I was a very clever little girl! they soon stopped worrying!
Of course they are not all like this sometimes my mum just isnt hungry but then eats at night as shes diabetic I dont worry as at least shes eating.
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Pantry lock sounds like a good idea.
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