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Hi, my mom is 89 and has dementia. I need a food supplement for her to drink. After a short stay in the hospital for pancreatis she has been losing weight steadily. She has a few mouthful then says she is full. She is not on any medication and I would like to find a food supplement to add to her meals or drink. She does drink Ensure, but this is not enough to stabilize the weight lost.

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My wife, 75;9, has very mild dementia, but not enough to worry about yet. But over the last 8 years she has lost almost 80 lbs. by skipping lunch. Our dr. and I think she should weigh about 140, given her age and height, so I've been giving her an Ensure every day. She has stopped losing weight and has in fact gained some in the last few months. If and when she reaches 140, I'll cut it back to one Ensure every other day, if she agrees--neither of us wants her to weigh more than 140.
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I gave my Mom Scandishake. Its not meant to be the sole food intake but it is high in calories (like 50% more than Ensure) and nutritious. It stopped her weight loss from dropping. Good tasting too. She loved it!
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Check with her doctor about an appetite enhancing prescription. I gave one to my cat when she was sick with cancer. I asked Mother's doctor about giving it to her, he thought it would be good, but she rallied and didn't need it.
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My wife, showing early signs of dementia--though she can still cook, do laundry, and drive to supermarkets--but her short-term memory is shot. She will tell me the same thing three times. Our doctor put her on Namenda and Aricept, which can slow Alzheimer's, but not cure it (her 78-year-old sister has full-blown Alzheimer's, as did their mother and maternal grandmother). She has been losing weight steadily for the last 8 years, by her strategy of skipping lunch. From 140 a year ago she dropped to 126, which is alarming for a 5'5" 75-year-old. Our doctor said to make her drink an Ensure or a Boost at noon every day, and this has brought her up to 130. Ideally, she should be at 140, so I'll have to keep feeding her one of these supplements. When she reaches 140, I'll back off to one every other day. Why don't I take over the driving and some of the other chores? Because I live in a wheelchair. About all I can do is empty the dishwasher and take care of all the paperwork, paying bills, etc.
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After exiting the rehab where she lost weight, my mom refused to eat or drink ensure products, so I substituted Carnation Breakfast essentials Vanilla for regular milk in her cereal and she just thought the cereal was more delicious. She gained weight from it.
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I agree that you must consult first with doctor. But if she is not diabetic there are lots of ways that you can "boost" a nutritional drink supplement to add both more nutrition and make it more tolerable and interesting to drink: customized Smoothies. And even if she is diabetic, as long as you are managing her calories and sugars, the important thing is to give her WHAT SHE WILL EAT.

My husband likes the Very Vanilla Boost over crushed ice -- a LITTLE like a vanilla milk shake -- and it comes in both High Protein and in Boost Plus which has more calories. It's difficult to be sure of finding either in the grocery store or Walmart when we need it so I order it by the 24 bottle case from Amazon -- you can even set it up for automatic delivery once you establish how much you need. And it's much cheaper by the case!!!

BUT, to pack it with extra calories, add GREEK yogurt (higher in protein and easily available in grocery stores). My husband has cardiovascular disease so I use No Fat yogurt, but that's something you can ask her doctor about too. Then I add whatever fruit I happen to have on hand. I like to use frozen fruit (ripe bananas, cut in chunks and frozen are great, as are peaches, strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mangoes, even black cherries -- buy your store brand to save $ -- because the fruit acts like ice to make the drink thicker and colder (more like a milk shake) without diluting the volume with no-value water. The bananas also add potassium. I almost always make a "mixed fruit" drink but if your mother's tastes and the doctor's approval warrant it, you can get inventive with other flavors: my granddaughter likes Smoothies made with chocolate milk (use chocolate Ensure, Glucerna (lower sugar) or Boost instead) and peanut butter. Or you could use FLAVORED full fat or no fat Greek yogurt instead of plain to make a single fruit flavored Smoothie such as orange "Dreamsicle" or "Black Forest Cherry Chocolate" or "Peach/Raspberry Melba". Add protein powder too if the doctor agrees. If you are using frozen bananas -- which also add body to the drink -- you can use fresh fruit, even things like cantaloupe or apples that you might not normally think of -- it all depends on what your Mom will enjoy. If using the yogurt and protein powder, you can even skip the Ensure and use ice cold apple juice or orange juice (strawberry/orange/banana is delicious). You can also add honey or other approved sweetener and even some spices to your mother's taste: like cinnamon or nutmeg. If the drink seems "flat" to you, try adding even a pinch of salt. Variety may matter a lot to her, or not at all...do whatever works!

You can use a blender for any of these, provided it's strong enough to crush/grind the frozen fruit. However, I have found it is much easier and less mess to use a blender stick, which cost about $20-25. Easier to clean between uses, especially when switching flavors. Oh, and be sure to buy straws that are big enough to suck up thick liquids.

My mother's nursing home gives her a product called "Resource" which has a pudding texture and is PACKED with nutrition; they also give her something called "Mighty Shake" which comes in chocolate, strawberry or vanilla. It comes in little 4 ounce cartons and Mom likes all the flavors. I THINK these have even more nutrition than the Boost type products, BUT they require refrigeration and I don't know how/where a private person could buy them, but ASK. However, I can almost guarantee that you can make your own Smoothies even more nutritious and more appealing, and drinking seems easier and she may feel a little more "in control" just sipping her Smoothie than looking at a plate of food. Especially with dementia it can be difficult for folks to accurately recognize feelings of hunger or fullness and there's a lot more effort (and decision making!) to eating solid food than drinking. So you can make sure all her liquids really COUNT! Good luck and angels watch over you.
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Bonnie, thank you for sharing the info on the soup. Being able to bring the blood up naturally like that is wonderful as blood transfusions can cause so many neg complications.
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Biotics research inc sells an array of protein and whey products without sugAr
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If mom is not diebotic you have many choices, ensure plus, boost, are common ones and you can give her a couple a day. Also at drug store or healthfood store you could look for protein powder as mentioned. Look for products that weight lifters use. However if she is diebetic you must first consult with doctor as many products will spike her blood sugar. As with all supplements a quick call ti doc or an email to confirm its ok would be best. I hope the best for mom and you and im glad she is feeling better.
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We used Ensure Plus, I mixed it with a scoop of ice cream. Her weight stabilized really fast. I used a little mini blender so it was much more like an ice cream shake.
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I have been giving my 85-year old mom Orgain, which is an organic meal replacement shake. Much healthier ingredients than Ensure, and the MDR of vitamins and minerals. Highly recommended.
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My mom went thru something similar. They wanted to admit her to hospital for blood transfusions as well. Best to check with dr about appetite and the other things mentioned to make sure alwYs get a diagnosis first. Then I decided it was too risky to have admitted in hospital as the prior two times she contracted MRSA. SO I brought her home and stArted her on homemade bone soup. Within a couple of months no need for transfusions. Blood count and anemia disappeRed.
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My mum is solely on milk , fighting off a nasty bout of bed sores on both hips .. slowly recovering . We gave her 1 scoop of protein powder with each serving of milk , and it seemed to give her enough protein to recover slowly . The brand used here is Propass - protein powder. My mum is on Glucerna because she has diabetes , Ensure is for those without diabetes but Ensure has many combinations , some are better for elderly . Check it out and ask her doctor before you give her . Hope it helps . God bless.
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Call her MD first thing in the AM and ask what you can give her. She may need enzymes that normally come from the pancreas. Her insulin levels may be off. She really needs help from the MD, please make the call.
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