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Mom is 83. in an independent living community. There are no special diets. she has free will to eat what and when she pleases. and she's gained a lot of weight. i'd say maybe 25 lbs this past yr. how do in coax her into eating better? we go to the grocery store, she buys fruit, but then doesn't eat it. I wind up throwing a lot of her food out. she argues with me about what she wants to buy. if I buy it and take it to her, she still wont eat it. loves her sweets. snack foods.. they have coffee and donuts in a bistro every morning. that's where i'll find her. and plates of donuts brought back to her room. not too big on the walking or exercising. i'm lost...

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They are dealing with so many people who don't eat enough, so those kinds of foods that go down easy and have lots of calories per bite! But, that means they are failing to individualize for the rest of us with huge appetites who need to fill up on lighter fare. Eating either more or less than you have an appetite for is VERY hard. I have patients who just barely put on enough weight to grow drinking a couple cans of 2 cal per cc formula...me, I'd be afraid to even inhale the fumes form that stuff :-) No easy answer. They really do tend to view it all as a horse is out of the barn situation, but quality of life deteriorates fast if your blood sugars are through the roof. They at least had sugarfree for my mom - mostly too high in fat but that's another story. We had to change her diabetes medication approach so she was not ravenous and stashing and eating sugar packets all the time.
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YOU have to be in control, e.g. take away all sweets! She doesn't get a say in the matter!
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because this is an independent living center, not assisted living, they have almost no interaction with the people.. if you raise their level of care, the will do more. but money is the factor. the more you need them to help the more it costs. already over 3000 a month. and she doesn't qualify for help.
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Is it an option to speak with the management about cutting back on offering the donuts? They could perhaps offer healthier snacks that aren't so toxic. Maybe have the donuts once a week or something like that. 25 lbs is a lot. Maybe it's time to move her to a safer environment where management is more concerned about the health of their clients. I'm assuming the donut shop is part of the facility. To me you should at least let them know of your concern. This seems wrong on so many levels to set up someone who can't make reasonable decisions about their food choices.
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Thank you Mellita for taking the emotion out of this question you are an awesome nurse.
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The headline to the question: "How do you get an Alzheimer's person to lose some weight?"
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I see nothing where Alzhiemers was mentioned by the poster. Anyway, my Mom has gained 10lbs since daycare. I think she eats till she is full (she does here) but they give much more than she normally eats. She has thyroid problems. The days she goes to daycare dinner is light. When she is with me, I watch her intake. High calorie junk is a no no. She is not active and walks with a walker. I do find with people with dementia that its the sweets they tend to go for.
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Unfortunately we can not turn back the clock and have the person we remember back. If we truly love them we do everything to keep them healthy but as Jessie says making someone do anything is just not possible. Eating is one of the things that gives her pleasure and you can't remove the donuts from the facility although you can advocate for a healthier choice with coffee or at least not allow residents to stock pile them. As far as the activities, bingo and puzzles are there for the residents enjoyment, this is not a correctional facility. If she won't eat it don't buy it. Can you make her favorite things with for example artificial sweetener not sugar. Above all don't make yourselves miserable with things you can't change. Enjoy the time you have left with your Mom.
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I am a nurse specializing in gerontology. For many people, already having to give up so many things that are important to them, the pleasure associated with eating becomes a quality of life issue. Sure, her physical functioning may decline due to the weight gain. Then there's the expense of buying new clothing. But a person with Alzheimer's is not necessarily going to comprehend consequences of eating the "wrong" foods. Restricting her could cause her to be frustrated and depressed, and depression also contributes to physical and mental deterioration. Exercise is beneficial if a person enjoys it. I say allow your mom to enjoy herself. Quite often, illnesses--including dementia itself--will eventually take a toll on her appetite, and unavoidable and perhaps undesired weight loss will ensue.
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I think they forget to eat sometimes. but mom is mostly due to inactivity. she sleeps a lot. and not eating good when she does eat.. but like its been said. I can only do so much. I agree she's going to need more care,, soon i'm thinking.. its just so hard when you see someone you love, who was a very intelligent person, very active, get to this state. heartbreaking really.
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sunnygirl, you're right. My mother was about 180 lb when I came here. She's less than 160 lb now. She has gone from 2X to 16W in dress size. I don't know why the weight loss happened. It may be a normal thing for older people.
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I think that it might not be realistic to expect an Alzheimer's patient to exercise good judgment and self control. It's not something they are likely to be able to do. That's even difficult for people who don't have brain damage. Plus, she may be forgetting what she has just eaten, so cutting back, will be not be likely.

How advanced is her condition? As she progresses, it's likely she will need more supervised assistance. At that time, the meals and snacks will become standard and maybe, she'll lose weight then. Also, I've noticed that a lot of people with dementia tend to lose weight. I'm not sure why.
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I do worry about the 2-3X, though. I know it makes it tough on her back and legs. I do understand your concern, but know there's only so much you can do.
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pd, I think the most important thing is to know that we can't control what they do. We can toss the ball their way, but they're the ones that have to pick it up and run (or walk slowly) with it. We can't spend too much of our time trying to get them to engage. That wouldn't be fair to us and would probably make them feel miserable. They would probably just see it as nagging.

Sometimes it is best to let them lives their lives in the way they choose, and hope for the best.
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thanks GardenArtist... she wont get involved with any thing other than bingo and puzzles.. I've tried to get her into the exercise classes many times...I take her "shopping" a lot.. just to get her walking around. but I cant do that all the time.. we go places where she has to walk... but not helping much I guess. I think her breathing is because of the weight and inactivity. I also have my issues which prohibit me from doing a lot with her. walking is also an issue for me. not like her, but I can only go so much... we go to the casino and she walks, to the park in the summer,,, but not so much during the cold months. too hard on her. she's had pneumonia several time..
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Another thought - are there exercise classes in the IL facility, and if not, could you speak to one of the admins to see about starting some. If exercise is combined with socialization, before the bistro visit, it might encourage her to go.

The ALZ might be a complicating factor in any weight loss attempt though, so you might have to think of ways you can sneak in the exercise as a function of some pleasurable social event.
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Use the rollator as much as you can, even for short walks. Create destinations - visit others within the facility, so that the walks don't seem long and without purpose and the interim destinations are encouraging and give her a motive for walking.

Can you interest her in activities, which would require walking at least a little bit?

This might not work, but you can try one of the small exercise bikes that are really just a set of pedals. My father uses one while he's sitting down. It works the lower and upper legs. She could work out her legs and strengthen them while she's watching tv or visiting others in the complex.

I'm wondering about her breathing. Other than lack of exercise and some excess weight, are there any respiratory issues to be addressed? Would she use an incentive spirometer if you got one for her?
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thanks, JessieBelle.. the other problem is she still sees herself as an x large.. I've bought her 2-3x clothes because I don't want her to feel bad about comments some might make. she knows shes getting bigger... and walking is a real problem. she has a walker with the seat on it(?).. and she gets around good with that.. also winded real fast. she's had a heart attack 3 yrs ago and 2 stents, even her heart dr. cant make her change. she will agree with what you say, but still do as she pleases. ornery ole lady:)
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This is a hard question because we can't control what they do. Even when we live with them it is hard to control things without making both them and ourselves miserable. The things you can do are what you are already doing -- providing healthy alternatives. The other thing that may work is to let her know she is getting too heavy and soon her clothes might not fit. It would also make it harder for her to walk. I don't know how far along in the disease she is, but truth kindly said is often the best way.
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