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My grandmother has been hospitalized for the last couple of weeks due to a complication from surgery and has been in and out of the ICU. The doctors and nurses seem to believe that she will recover if she'd start eating and doing her physical therapy. She is pretty good about the physical therapy, but refuses to eat. She simply tells us she just can't. My entire family has tried to convince her to hold on and start eating again. She is as stubborn as they come. We're afraid that she is giving up. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to get her to begin eating again and encourage to hold on and fight?

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You have to be smart about this, you obviously care a lot to think carefully. This is a woman who has lived for almost 9 decades, she has seen doctors and all kinds of prescriptions for health come and go. She is not to be dictated to or treated badly at this time in her life. She sounds like she is protesting about modern society's treatment of her. Try standing up for her instead and being her councel in the face of dehumanising hospital practices, afteral they are just trying to cover their legal obligations over real care for the individual.

She needs the human touch. Someone to have time to listen and talk with, search out old movies and books to enjoy,her favourite food brought from home, grandchildren who are happy to see her and if she is depressed these things should be the first things to try. She has already become institutionalised and she doesn't need to be completely 'caged' by the system.

Let her get out and enjoy some good weather but most of all respect her wishes. All she really needs is daily washes and sustenance.

u could get nutrients tubes and put it in her body to keep her alive. but then again 89 is a old age maybe shes just tired of living and doesnt want to keep going.
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Thank you for the suggestions, my grandmother is 80 and she was hospitalized due to infection from clogged intestines (after her surgery her lower intestines got twisted and it wasn't noticed until it was too late). She had to have a fairly large section of her intestines removed. She's on a soft-food diet right now. Her stomach/belly have to hurt and she's always not wanted to eat when she felt bad. However, the doctors need to get her to eat and get her bowel's functioning again. So far a good friend of mine, who happens to be a nurse at the same hospital was able to get her to eat one night when he was working. Her attitude about life seems to be going very up and down depending on the day. I'll question the nurses about her diet restrictions and see if I can come up with something. I really appreciate the advice.
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If you are looking to stimulate her appetite try a small serving of dark chocolate an while before her meal time. It is a treat and not sweet like milk chocolate. I know it sounds simple, but it worked for both my father and my husband's grandmother after surgury. My father also found after surgery that certain foods tasted different. We never tracked down the reason, but we tried different foods with him until we came up with some that he liked. After recovery he is back to eating foods he liked before surgery.
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My Mom is currently in the hospital. Some of the things the staff does are unbelievable. Have someone sit with your GM for a few days straight. Question has she had a chance to be toileted before she is expected to eat? Is the food served things that she would eat? Is it served at the proper temperature? Unless there is a special diet, you can bring things from home. I brought one of the supplement beverages and offered it to my Mom as a strawberry shake. Down it went! (It was better than the ice cold scrambled eggs and ham that had been sitting in the hallway for over an hour!) By now, your GM's stomach has shrunk, it will take some steps to get it back up and going. Don't put the tray of food in front of her, just take one item at a time. I broke the container with a sandwich in it in half and offered my Mom a half of sandwich. I had to hand it to her, but she ate the entire half. Doesn't sound like much? She had eaten on her own in 5 days! I gave her some of the 'shake' and she was on her way. Looking at an entire tray of food when you haven't eaten in a while can make you nauseous. Good luck, how old is she?
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How old is she? Does she have any chronic conditions, such as copd, diabetes, chf, etc.? Has she been in fairly good health up to now?

You think that she is giving up. But that doesn't seem consistent with her willingness to do the physical therapy. Do you think you could probe a little about why she "just can't"? Does she have swallowing problems? Nausea? Does the food smell or taste awful? Does she say she just wants to stop fighting for health and give in?

I had a period when I "just couldn't" eat. My doctor was sure it was the anxiety of having my husband diagnosed with dementia. I assure you that I had not in any sense given up. And I did force myself to eat some high nutrient foods. It made me gag to do so, but I knew I needed strength. As it turned out, it wasn't anxiety that needed treatment -- I had undiagnosed diabetes! I'm not suggesting that is your GM's problem, but just pointing out that not being able to eat isn't always related to "giving up."

Has anyone had a frank discussion with her about her attitude toward getting well? Does she believe the doctor's assurances that she can get well? Have they discussed with her what her life will be like when she is well? Will she have any limitations? Will she return to her former baseline? If these things haven't been discussed, she may be imagining things to be worse than they are.

Bless you for trying to help her, langed2. Please come back and tell us how this is working out.
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