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She eats so little I do not know how she keeps going. My mother's appetite has gone down considerably within the past 1 1/2 months. She had been on Remeron and that is known to make you eat and put on weight. She was not overeating but her appetite was good, Now however she could care less about eating since the Remeron has been removed.

We have tried numerous different foods to entice her but she does not care. She wants a cup of coffee and may say she cannot hold another bite of food but she will eat a couple cookies in lieu of food. I let her eat anything she wants, just to get food into her but this is concerning me. When we say anything to her about eating she becomes upset and yells, "Leave me alone. Maybe I'll die and get out of everyone's hair!"

I have noticed that when she eats, she seems to breathe harder almost like she is out of breath. She also pushes her elastic waist pants down a bit like she swelling.

She had gall bladder surgery in September of 2013. Previous to the surgery she had cut way back on eating due to discomfort and we did not realize it was her gall bladder so we began to give her Megace to increase her appetite. After realizing we had a gall bladder problem, we stopped but now I don't know if I should try the Megace again or what because I do not want to cause her any additional discomfort. I do know that as we age our eating declines but I just am unsure how to handle this. She only weights about 97 pounds.

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I used to help an Elderly Neighbor who was 92 when I met her. I took her on trips to the grocery store etc....until she did not care to go anymore. Then she would give me a list and I would shop for her. I noticed that she didn't eat much. One week it would be chicken every day. The next it would be hamburger. She drank a lot of brewed coffee, too.
However, what she ate the most was Ice Cream. She was a naturally lean woman, but I became worried about her as she aged even more. I spoke to my own doctor about her. He was in his late 70's and had been my GP for about 35 years. He worked until he was 84. Then he passed away. He was a Great Old Fashioned Doctor. When I told him about my friend he told me that her diet was all right for such an elderly person. He encouraged me to encourage her to eat more Ice Cream....Quality Ice Cream with high fat content.....because it had a lot of food value for her. Now there are Liquid Food Supplements like Ensure etc. I probably would have tried those for her....if they had been "invented" way back then.

My friend did not pass away until she was 99 years 10 months old. She died in her sleep on Christmas Eve. The Nurses and Aides told me she had been Very Cheerful and Talkative the day before and went to sleep Very Happy. They said that happens with the Very Elderly. So my friend had a life she loved.....and she ate what she wanted....and she lived and loved for almost a century. Mostly eating Ice Cream for the last 8 years.
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I used to help an Elderly Neighbor who was 92 when I met her. I took her on trips to the grocery store etc....until she did not care to go anymore. Then she would give me a list and I would shop for her. I noticed that she didn't eat much. One week it would be chicken every day. The next it would be hamburger. She drank a lot of brewed coffee, too.
However, what she ate the most was Ice Cream. She was a naturally lean woman, but I became worried about her as she aged even more. I spoke to my own doctor about her. He was in his late 70's and had been my GP for about 35 years. He worked until he was 84. Then he passed away. He was a Great Old Fashioned Doctor. When I told him about my friend he told me that her diet was all right for such an elderly person. He encouraged me to encourage her to eat more Ice Cream....Quality Ice Cream with high fat content.....because it had a lot of food value for her. Now there are Liquid Food Supplements like Ensure etc. I probably would have tried those for her....if they had been "invented" way back then.

My friend did not pass away until she was 99 years 10 months old. She died in her sleep on Christmas Eve. The Nurses and Aides told me she had been Very Cheerful and Talkative the day before and went to sleep Very Happy. They said that happens with the Very Elderly. So my friend had a life she loved.....and she ate what she wanted....and she lived and loved for almost a century. Mostly eating Ice Cream for the last 8 years.
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my mother also takes megace(megastrol) and has gained 25 lbs since she moved in with us a year and a half ago..from 117 to 132…it may be worth giving it another shot
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I make my Mumm Vanilla "Milkshakes"...always with premium high-calorie ice cream and heavy whipping cream. The best part is that I can sneak in a whole bunch of healthy stuff like protein powder, coconut oil (supposed to help memory loss) greens, fresh or frozen fruits, carrots and celery, flax seed, oil, chia seeds, gelatin, etc. I also made her a chocolate spinach milkshake the other day...she was none the wiser until I told her and then she was still okay with it. I tasted it and couldn't taste the spinach at all.
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Holy Cow sometimes lack of appetite and weight loss can be a sign of depression.
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I finally decided not to worry so much about what Mom is eating. I still use Elena's advice about trying to make it more fun and introduce some different foods into her diet. I have to make sure that I make a dessert for dinner each night that she eats after dinner and before bed....it holds her sleeping pill!!!!! She refuses to take any pill that will allow her to sleep so we have to run around each night making sure that dessert is ready to go and searching for new and different things to eat, although she loves ice cream so even if it was ice cream she would eat it!

We are making it an everyday occurrence to eat lunch outside together. She only eats 1/4 of a sandwich, but I make sure she has potato salad or fruit maybe a couple chips or yogurt and a cup of milk. It seems like if we are looking at the nature and talking, she forgets what she is doing and she eats. When we sat at the dining room table or I was in a hurry trying to get multiple things done at once, she would lose interest and not eat.

I am trying to clean off the patio and get an umbrella and see if perhaps we could eat dinner out there periodically as well before it gets too hot.

I know logically that as we age our appetite diminishes and yes it is caused by a lack of exercise, medications, boredom and maybe even the lack of will to continue to live. I guess I just have to accept the fact that I am doing what I can, the best I can and if or when she passes away i will at least know that I did what I could while she was here. As a care giver I have to try and control most all situations but in the end we really have no control over life and death, it is just realizing this and accepting it that can be hard.
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My mom is now having more issues eating. We are now taking the advice of feeding more meals and more frequently. Where I used to give her yogurt at lunch for calcium, it's now a mid-afternoon snack. A piece of fruit is yet another snack, and no longer dessert. Cookies are even yet one more snack and not attached to a meal.

And I do sometimes have to have the "eat or you'll die" discussion with her. She doesn't have a great memory but I think it kinds of sinks in and I do it both in a nice way and also repetitively. While my mom has a bad memory, there are actually things that sink-in. If I ask her, she doesn't really remember how to answer me, but she'll remember to do it. It's hard to explain, but it's not as simple as a yes/no remember/not-remember kind of thing with her (and lots of other people, either).
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My 84 yr old Dad was put on Remeron as well. The thing that I found that my Daddy will take is the nutritional vanilla shake "Boost", he likes it really cold and thinks it is a shake. The other thing he eats is Reese's cups. If he only eats one or two bites of 3 meals and gets 3 boosts and reese's cups, he maintains his weight.
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Sorry Ashlyne I thought you might be seeking solutions but now I realize the time for that is long since gone and mum is marching to her own band and is determined to continue as it suites her just fine. I may be wrong but stick by my first comment that she is not yet ready to shut down. She'll do that when she is good and ready. Bloody mindedness gives a person a lot of strength. Stay home and take care of yourself. Hugs
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Veronica there are 60 residents in the nursing home, 3 meals a day and 2 choices at all meals. With 60 people to get fed they will certainly not cater to one individual or serve her in her room where she hides in self isolation 24/7. The rest of the residents aren't good enough for her to associate with. Maybe we could get Donald Trump to move in there? lol

She's determined she be allowed to sleep in and be served breakfast when she wakes up, whenever that might be. Unfortunately she's been a narcissist with delusions of grandeur her whole life. She has no sense of smell and hasn't for a very long time. She's given a protein drink at least once a day but mostly refuses to drink it. Even if I ran down there twice a day she'd still refuse to eat or drink but, loving the attention, she'd keep the behaviour up, probably escalating that behaviour to see just how far she could push everyone. You can take a horse to water but ...

Physical issues we can deal with. The nursing home staff and RNs have been there, done that, with those who are mentally ill (Dementia/ALZ) a thousand times but for us mere mortals there's no dealing with mental illness when all reasoning has gone out the window.
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As Mum enjoys breakfast could she be offered breakfast foods for other meals too?
I would not push eating in the dining room for lunch and dinner because the smell of traditional meals may put her off eating.
She is clearly declining but probably has not come to the shutting down stage yet although another stroke would likely push her in that direction.
try and accept things the way they are now,at least she is still interested in eating and cookies and chocolate are easy to chew. If she would drink Boost or carnation Instant breakfast that would help too. Personally I hate Ensure but some of the other non dairy "milks are pretty good. Chocolate Almond milk is very pleasant. haven'y tried any of the others yet. They are too expensive to make a poor choice.
Try and just take things one day at a time you will know when she is truly shutting down.
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My mother, 88, in a NH, barely eats as well. At this point I doubt she weighs more than my big old Labrador. I've tried taking her favourite foods for lunch but she eventually refused it. A vegetarian (which the dietician is aware of) she mostly refuses to go to lunch and just picks at supper though she does eat breakfast, and munches away at her stash of cookies and chocolates. I shouldn't provide them but at this stage at least she's eating something and enjoying it. Even if I stopped providing, there's a vending machine in the hall and she has money to use it.

She's had Parkinsons and numerous strokes over the last 17 years plus she has dementia. I go between feeling that, as she spends all her time in bed or her wheelchair, her body doesn't need a lot and thinking that maybe she's just starting to shut down.
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Dear Holy Cow, I'm a dietitian in long-term care. Lack of appetite is a common complaint. There are many reasons for decreased appetite, so the solution needs to be individualized. Remeron medication is often used because it increases appetite and improves depression. Megace medication is also used to stimulate appetite, but not as a first choice medication because of the serious side-effects. Offering small portions of calorie dense foods (cheese/crackers, milk shakes, peanut butter/crackers, cookies, deviled eggs, fruit/cottage cheese, vegetables with cheese sauce, etc.) several times a day often works because your mother won't feel over-whelmed by the amount of food presented. ANY food (including sweets like peanut butter cups and cookies) is better than NO food. Use a daily multivitamin with minerals to make up for her poor diet selection if she only wants to eat cookies. You can also use a nutrition supplement like Carnation Instant Breakfast, Ensure, Boost, etc. to give her extra vitamins and minerals if she prefers drinks instead of eating solid foods. Finding the solution to her poor appetite is complicated, so continue to address the issue with her doctor or request a referral to a dietitian.
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At least she does not want a perm! Can you imagine that long in the beauty shop. One of our patients did that - at least her daughter made her- and she colapsed half way through. Wonder nurse ran round and revived her so they could finish the job.
Daughter took pictures of the new perm which did look nice - on an almost dead woman
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I use to stress when my mom was not eating, drinking, pooping,sleeping to little, sleeping too much. Even though I am still aware of all of these things I cannot control all of them all of the time. Most of the time if she does not want to eat, I say ok but I do have ice cream. We ride a constant rollercoaster here, the priest has been here three times in 3 months. She is currently yelling from her bed she wants 500.00 to get her hair cut for Jesus. lol Good Times Good Times
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HolyCow, what a great idea about making meals more fun. I will need to remember that if at some point I notice my parents not eating.

Glad to hear your Mom enjoyed eating outside :)
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Hi, I think she should see her doctor often to monitor her appetite problem. As she had undergone some surgery as you mentioned so maybe it has to do with her eating problem. I am hoping for her full recovery.
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freqflyer: My Mom is up and around and she does work in the yard, that is part of what was making me worry. I have to say that Elena gave an answer about making everything more appealing and sometimes in smaller increments. I have begun doing this and today I asked Mom to eat outside under the trees with me and we had a lovely time and she ate everything with no problems!!! YEAH!!!

I am trying to put into practice what Elena has said and add in other things. I told Elena that I was going back to the store to buy some of those small umbrellas that go into drinks and put one in her shakes. Plus I bought some small almost finger type food, which seems to make a difference.

We get so tired we are just wiped out and we cook a meal and put it on the table so everyone can eat, we can clean it up and then hopefully in a while go to bed. Those meals are mostly hurried and pretty basic rather that being fun. I am going to try to be more "fun!"
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We also have to remember that older people aren't up and about walking, doing yard work, going up and down stairs.... exercising. Thus, your appetite will dwindle, it does for me any time I am not active.
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HolyCow I'm going through this with my mom. She doesn't have Alzheimers but is 94 and has gone from about 165 lbs to 128 lbs. She just doesn't have an appetite. I give her every high calorie/high fat thing I can, but she's still dropping like a rock.

I remember when my cousin had to feed her mom (my mom's sister) with dementia (in the nursing home) because even with the meal in front of her, she'd forget to eat. At the time, I thought, "Geez, Mother Nature is telling you it's time for your mom to go...let Nature take its course." Of course now that it's happening to my mom, it's SO HARD to watch it and not try to intervene in some way. My mom says all of the time she's ready to go. She's not trying to limit her calories, she just isn't hungry. She says she's not doing anything, so doesn't need to eat much.

So I feel your pain...but don't have any real answer. I think with my mom, it's Mother Nature taking its natural course. And that's really hard on me, the caregiver. I want to "fix" it and I know I can't.
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Veronica91: I never felt that my mother was trying to starve herself to death. This is not my first rodeo with care giving, it is my fourth. With almost everyone of them their appetites diminished as they went downhill and I realize this is part of the living/dying process. Although I believe my mother is years away from actually dying. It is frustrating this up and down roller coaster of eating and not eating as well as the change in behaviors. Never will I put my mother on any type of feeding tube to sustain her life, her Healthcare Directive clearly states she does not want this nor do I. My question was asking for insight from others as to how they had handled this situation when they were faced with it. Your response of "HolyCow You have been through this twice before so stop making it a big deal" is like a slap in the face to someone who is having a very difficult time dealing with this situation and honestly looking for help.

There are many times when I have seen the same question asked numerous times, if I am tired of answering that question I move on to another one, or if I have seen maybe, PStegman or JeanneGibbs or Igloo answer a question the way I would or I can add nothing to what they have offered, I move on or mark "Helpful Answer." I try not to write anything nasty to anyone as I know that we are all dealing with horribly stressful situations and just seeking advice.

Thank you for your apology....I appreciate it!
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Holy Cow I am truly sorry if you found my answer offensive that was far from my intention.. I was not at all ticked with your asking the same question because previously you had found the reason to be gall stones and to you this was another new experience.
My remarks about it not being a big deal were directed to the forum and the world in general when so many people insist on major measures when their loved ones are reaching the end of their time on earth. This is not necessarily the case with your mother and of course you should continue to tempt her with tasty treats. The point I was trying to get across was that few people deliberately starve themselves to death but that is the way things appear to their loved ones.
Again please accept my appologies.
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Veronica91: When I first asked this question last year, the doctor put my mother on Megace but it turned out she had gall stones and had to undergo surgery to correct the issue. She has been doing well with eating and then all the sudden cut her eating to about 2 tablespoons a meal. Now I am sorry if my asking this question offends you, but there are hundreds of people on this site and more coming on every single day who have experience in this area and are willing to share their insights and experiences and I appreciate that. None of us are paid to provide answers to these questions, so if you see one that you have previously answered and you are ticked to see it again, then perhaps you should pass that question up and answer someone else's rather than being rude. What is a big deal to me may not be a big deal to you, but it is my problem that I am seeking new/additional advice or input on. I greatly appreciate the advice that has been given by Elena and others, that is what we come here for true understanding and support by others who have walked in our shoes.
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I wouldn't be surprised if your Mom has acid-reflex.... I know if I am wearing something uncomfortable around my waist I don't feel like eating because the tightness forces the acid back up into the throat... not pleasant.

Get your Mom larger pants to wear, even larger underpants, and see if that makes a difference. I know it worked for myself. Let's hope it is something this simple.
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HolyCow You have been through this twice before so stop making it a big deal. I have heard this so often that a loved one starved themselves to death. This is rarely a conscous decision, the body calls for less and less fuel and the interest in food goes away. Force feeding someone ie with a tube will only put too mauch stress on the internal organs causing unpleasant side effects. Even with tube feeding the body eventully even rejects that and the the stomach refuses to empty causing discomfort and vomiting. it makes you feel so helpless to watch but mother nature has her ways of doing things and has been doing it for a lot longer than you or I. So concentrate on the things you can control and let Mom amd MN take care of the rest.. Blessings.
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ElenasElderCare: I hope and pray to God that if or when I need to be placed somewhere, it will be with someone like you! I loved your post and it made me wish I could pop over to share a bite with you. Caring for Mom alone is very difficult and leaving to run to the store to buy these things would really have to be planned out but i do agree that something appealing is better than a cookie.

My older sister brings home these cookies because she knows my Mom likes to eat them, so I am constantly fighting this and she brings home about 5 gallons of ice cream at a time as well.

I had also read that the brain of an Alzheimer's patient craves sugar is why they go for it. I do have to say that I cook some very good meals but she just refuses to eat or fakes a stomach ache. I thought when we gave her yogurt the other day to eat in place of her meal, she was going to throw a huge fit, but it was a rather small one instead.

geo123: My Moms memory lasts for about 10-15 minutes if that, so having a talk with her doctor is of no value to Mom. By the time we get home from his office, she doesn't even remember ever having been there.

She says she isn't hungry but it is more like, "I don't want to eat that!" I will ask her if there is a special meal that she would like me to fix for her and her answer is always "no nothing." Her main stays are a cup of coffee, cookies and ice cream. She might eat some salad as she does like that but I cannot get meat into her any more. I cook her one egg and she eats half. If I make toast or hash brown potatoes then she will eat less of the egg and a couple bites of the potatoes and bread. It is frustrating and I have turned into one of those people who are allowing her to eat anything if she will PLEASE JUST EAT!

She also will not eat lunch because she is still full breakfast and her 2 tablespoons of food and if she does eat, then she won't eat dinner because she is still full from lunch.

We have locked up all her medications to keep her from accidentally getting into them and overdosing herself but now I almost wonder if the lack of eating is a way to end her life as well. I have seen this before with my aunt and my father in their last year of life, we practically stood on our heads to cook for them to eat. It didn't work.
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As with the last response, I'd suggest talking to her doctor about the heavy breathing and possible swelling. But with that said, I have read posts in here that suggest letting a person eat anything they want in order to get calories in them. There are some situations, it seems, where empty calories are better than none, at all. Ask your doctor if this is one of those cases.

But as for the outbursts, I wouldn't necessarily put too much stock in it. My mom has outbursts when I try to get her to do a lot of things. Partly, she feels less control over her life now that I'm her caretaker and she doesn't like that loss of control. Partly, her ability to properly express herself is diminishing, as her memory is causing her to have a hard time coming up with the simplest words and especially so when she's upset (usually with me!! ;-) ).

There is a difference between not being hungry and not eating, though. My mother has no appetite but will eat when I put it on the table because she knows she needs the nutrients. Have your mother's doctor have a talk with her about it. If the only problem is a lack of appetite, she might be induced to eat. But if there's some other problem, she might be having a hard time figuring out how to explain what's wrong -- it's she's too bloated to eat, for example, she might not know how to tell you that, or even that it's important.
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Elena makes some excellent suggestions for enticing her residents and ai am sure they are very content in her care. However as the end of life approaches the appetite does dwindle and over time as the body needs less fuet goes away completely. Talk to the Dr about her breathlessness and feeling of fulness. they may be able to give her something to speed up her digestion. Present wery small portions and as Elena said just present them. Serve soft food that is easy to swallow. Even a small glass of wine with her Dr's agreement may stimulate her to eat. I agree that coffee and cookies are not the best nutrition but can you add egg or peanut butter to the mix, or make something savory with a little cheese. maybe mini pizzas (soft and home made) or tartlets made like quiche and puddings. Finger food that needs no effort and something to wash it down.
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The key is in "I let my mother eat anything she wants". If you give her cookies every time she ask for it, it will ruin her appetite for sure. Indeed, she might ask for cookie just because it's all she remembers. It's your job to bring healthy option: piece of fruit, freshly made smoothy, small salad, parfait made with organic yogurt and fresh berries, etc.... bring it every hour or even more often.
I also do not bother asking my residents if they want to eat. I usually put it on front of them. Yes, it should be served appealing. I NEVER use plastic silverware and paper plates in my house. Use attractive china.... Yes, ice-cream tastes better if served with an old silver spoon and in a favorite cup! Fry slice of any fruit to top that ice-cream and compliment it when make presentation: "Oh, mom, look what I made for you! Oh, it looks yummy and tastes delicious! Can I have a spoon too?"
It also helps to "take a bite" on front of your mother.... bring those apple slices and share it with her. I bet she will not resist....
I also top all salads with fresh fruits and berries. Who said you can't serve lettuces with pears, strawberries and blueberries? Little drizzle of balsamic vinegar will make it complete.
You might also talk to the doctor about her meds. Most come with side affects, and declining appetite is one of them.
Good luck!
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I don't know, my mother's appetite is not good either. Since your mother likes cookies, perhaps you could make or buy, the very healthy cookies for her. I have given my mother baby food (as it is easy for her to swallow) and she seems to like it.
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