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I try my best to make healthy and appealing meals for my mother.
1. Come up with meal plan (as she will not provide any input)
2. Shop for food
3. Prepare food
4. Serve meal
5. Listen to complaints about meal
6. Clean up
7 Repeat
I just don't know how to please her and am at the end of my rope - meal wise. If left to her own devices it would be potato chips and doughnuts all day long. Any advice for making this more pleasant? Thanks for letting me vent.

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Look for foods with natural sugars. The elderly have lost a lot of taste buds, this is why they tend to want sugar and salt.

There are some nice sweet natural milks that make an awesome milk shake...without the added sugar. I used to add extra protein by using some boost in the shake.

See if there is some other natural sweet things she would like....maybe fresh chopped fruit? Fresh veggies are good too....just chopped not cooked. Cooking veggies changes their taste and texture...reducing the natural sweetness.
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Reply to Katiekate
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Have you asked Mom if she’d like to help you cook? It’s how I got my young grandsons to eat. Ask for her input. Help her make a few of her favorite recipes.

The fights over food may be part of the big picture. She may simply have no appetite. She may just resent how her life has turned out in general and decided to focus on your meals, which I’m sure are very good. Don’t take it personally. Sometimes it’s ok to have a bowl of cereal for dinner...
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Reply to Ahmijoy
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Btilley, it could also be the adult/child dynamic. In your Mom's eyes, we are once again the "kid", and what do we know?

By the way, how old is your mother? If she is in her 80's or 90's, she has lived a long life, let her eat what she wants [unless there are sugar limits]. I always say if an elder wants ice cream for breakfast, you ask "one scoop or two?".

Also, as we age, food starts to taste different, the flavor just isn't there as Katie had mentioned earlier. When I did the grocery shopping for my very elderly parents, my Mom also had on the list ice cream, Little Debbie cupcakes, apple pie, Whip-Cream, Pringles, etc. because sweets were pretty much all they could taste.
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Reply to freqflyer
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Hi Btilley,
It would be helpful if you gave us more information. How old is your mom? What are her health conditions? I assume you live together?
I have some experience with this problem. Not entirely successful. At one time I let it drive me nuts.
I tried to follow the guidelines that the health condition dictated within reason.
When my mom was living she was on Coumadin and was afraid of bleeding out. She avoided anything green. This was a real sacrifice to her because she was a big gardener and loved veggies. Her doctor told her to eat anything she wanted and her meds would be adjusted. She refused to do this. Which was her right and I believe caused further decline in her health.
I brought her a weeks worth of homecooked from scratch meals each week. She made herself a hot oatmeal breakfast each day and had a microwaved hot lunch of the food I brought.
Since she couldn’t have salt or Vit K (almost impossible to totally eliminate) and decided that many of the foods she could have caused painful gas, her food was very bland, not fun to cook and she didn’t enjoy it. Very discouraging. I did all the steps you mentioned (but not on a daily basis! I could not do that. ) including driving three hours one way to deliver the food, clean her house, yada, yada, yada. She had her cheats but they weren’t ones that would help the home cook. She would not eat a sandwich unless it was a made to order hamburger. I had to adjust my expectations of appreciation or admiration. She took great comfort in her steady weight, and her spot on blood test results.
And still she died.
My aunt (92 vascular dementia) takes three bp meds per day so in the beginning I tried to watch the salt. She doesn’t think that she likes salt but eats so much cheese I know she has too much sodium in her diet. Her aide makes her scrambled eggs with cheese and a slice of plain bread and a dollop of peach preserves each and every morning. She serves her a carnation instant breakfast or an Ensure before she leaves at 11.
She has snacks of peaches and cottage cheese, laced with full fat Greek yogurt, and bread all day long. She has hot soups in a thermos available for lunch. Many homemade. She will usually ignore that for more snacks. She also has Nutella off and on during the day. Fruit jello. A fruit salad. Slices of cheese. She gets meals on wheels three times a week which she NEVER eats (wellness check). She has a variety of sandwich choices available all the time, premade and cut into small squares with a variety of sides in each container like a boiled or deviled egg, piece of pie or chocolate, potato salad, pasta salad or other non green salad. (She hates lettuces) If bread is left on the counter top she will just eat that and not bother with the other things. If someone is visiting she will eat heartily of whatever is served. She never complains. If she has coffee and bread she is happy. As you can see I gave up cooking nutritionally for her as she just ate the bread and left everything else. I also watch her numbers. Weight, bp, pulse, blood work. Her geriatric primary thinks her numbers are great. Her blood sugar is a little high but she’s not diabetic. We’ve discovered if we put the loaf of bread in the extra fridge she doesn’t look for it and will eat the prepared foods a little better. I remind myself that she eats better now than when I started watching out for her.
I wish her diet were better but if I fuss she will say, “Does it matter at all that I feel good?” To which I always say that’s the most important thing and it is.
My advice to you is to lower your expectations for appreciation. Look for validation from her overall well being that you are most likely responsible for.
As for menus...
My mother couldn’t think of anything good to cook once she decided to give up everything she loved. My aunt will tell me not to worry, she’ll find a piece of bread. My husband is diabetic so that’s another story. Vent anytime. We understand.
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Reply to 97yroldmom
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There may be no pleasing her. This is part of the decline, possibly.

Also not knowing your details, it may be time to celebrate eating and stop worrying about healthy.

People can thrive on all manner of food. Our parents reached old age so there's that.

My mom loves French Fries and ketchup. She can have them every time I see her.

If your mom will eat a sandwich or soup or whatever, and potato chips, then encourage it.

There's a parallel with the pickiness of children's eating habits.

I say choose your battles.
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Reply to Rabanette
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Thank you all.
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Reply to BMT1011
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So frustrating. What are her complaints? Doesn't like it? Or just likes to complain? Are you making things you think/know she likes and she's still complaining?

It's not an easy ride, that's for sure. My mom lives with me and I cook 2 (usually) very healthy, low carb, high nutrient, yummy meals a day for us and my husband. I try to keep it on the paleo side. She's not terribly fussy, so luckily she'll eat most of the things I make without much complaint. She used to say she didn't like the scrambled eggs. We used coconut oil, she wanted butter. Fine. Now they're in butter. We used to make them more omelette style which she didn't like, she wanted them "scrambled" and fluffy. OK, fine. We make them that way and she doesn't complain anymore. About that, anyways. So, I had to drill down to the exact root of that complaint which was pretty easy to resolve. If only other issues were so easy to resolve. It's good for me to remember that!

She "cheats" like heck the rest of the time. Very content eating junk food with no nutritional value. Frustrating since she should lose at least 50 pounds but there's only so much a girl can do.

Good luck. Maybe if you give more details, you can get more specific advice from those in the trenches.
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Reply to againx100
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Well, her health will only get worse if she refuses to eat healthy, then it will be that much harder for you to care for her. I am at loss what to say,but I empathize with you. When you were a kid, there were things your mother wanted and did not allow, correct? For her to make things less difficult for you by doing what she needs to do, and not eat too much junk just to run herself down and expect you to sacrifice your time all the more. She is blessed to not be in a nursing home or assistant living.
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Reply to JesusLove1976
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My elderly parents would not purchase fresh fruit and veggies. And now that dad is gone as of last week.. mom won’t purchase them either... well in the summer she will buy tomatoes but that is it.. I have tried to convince her to buy some apples .. she would just turn up her nose and say naw... she heads straight to the area that has the small individual pastry pies! And loads up and buys a large box of choc chip cookies ... I swear her cart has nothing but processed foods and sugary items and simple carbs!!! Unless me or my sister bring over a home cooked health dish or crockpot stews etc.. they would never eat a healthy meal.... I don’t know if it’s fheir generation and being brought up on lack of computers and social media ... I asked her if she has ever read the ingredient labels... she said no cause she would know what she was reading... everything in her cart does not exist in my home because I eat healthy... I try to advise her she has hypertension and autoimmune diseases because of her diet and lifestyle... she doesn’t want to hear it... that generation would rather take pills for their diseases and conditions than change fheir diet or lifestyle ... so... I quit trying to get her to see my point.. when she complains about her stomach I just tell her it’s due to her diet and lifestyle and let it go ... u can’t change them ... but I do know the nursing homes will not let her eat like that whenever she has to go in one ...
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Reply to Sherry1886
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againx100 Jan 10, 2019
You're so right that many of that generation just want to take a pill and do what the doc says. They don't seem interested in a healthy diet or exercise or other simple things they could do to help themselves a bit. Frustrating.

I don't know if a NH wouldn't just let her eat what she wants. Lots of carbs and sugar, so....
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Loaded question! I've started spending the extra dollars to get lots of prepared and ready to zap and eat foods.

Boost and Glucerna have great healthy and delicious options and are the quickest way to get nutrients in both your loved one AND yourself!

Finally, once you have some of the "quick and easy" meals that are acceptable to YOU then roll out those meal plans repeating every 2-4 weeks. Include open times for planned take out or delivery at least once a week.

The complaints likely won't stop, but you'll be less emotionally invested - AND spending far less time!

Online grocery shopping and delivery will make that an easy process once you have the standard order created.

Post the plan and cross this problem off your very long list!
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Reply to JillLu
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Freqflyer has my vote!

Mom with alz is 79 and really the only thing she can "taste" is sweet. She cannot smell at all, which is common for her age and condition. I can't imagine how unappealing food is when you can't smell it or taste it! I hope not to get to that point. Since mom has been there for several years now, she continues to lose weight. A pound or so every month. Our trusted nurse advises that, at this point, it is also becoming difficult for her to eat, physically. Chewing and swallowing will continue to decline and will be a big part of her ultimate demise.

So let her eat what she wants and likes, as long as it does not cause immediate harm.

In Mom's world now, she must rely on others for nearly everything. Having the chocolate shake meal replacements and individual bags of salty snacks front and center lets her have a tiny bit of freedom and autonomy. Maybe that is the best that can be done....
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Reply to JillLu
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Some great answers here!!! I think we really got this one, folks!

Last thing I'll add is to respond with humor. If mom complains about a meal, I remind her of the time - long ago when she was a wife, mother, full time worker, AND probably going through menopause during a long hot summer - when she served us a supper of cold hot dogs with cold cereal. Dad sternly told my sister and me to eat it and be quiet. THAT always makes her laugh. And she briefly "gets it" so we can move on.
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97yroldmom Jan 11, 2019
thanks for this post JillLu. I laughed out loud. Cold hot dogs and cereal was funny but when your dad said eat it and be quiet ..too much. I’m still laughing. What a good man.
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Healthy food? I don't think it starts with food. I bought a refurb Ninja blender. I make fresh shakes for my dad every morning. 2 carrots, 1/3 cup of each fresh pineapple, frozen blueberries & strawberries, 1 of each orange(juice/pulp), lemon(juice/pulp), apple(no stem, but incl seeds), 1/4 cup of past. egg whites, cup of made up jello(make it up at night) such as lime or raspberry. Crank up the blender, add ice until it is to desired thickness. Most of the time, Dad drinks 4 glasses(8 oz) in the morning, then another 1 or 2 glasses before 6 pm. Sometimes, I add 2 Vit C tablets. Dad loves it & he gets a lot of vitamins. If fat is needed, whip cream can be added.
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Reply to dads1caregiver
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Yes, I also struggle with this. I’ve never liked eating food, and it’s been up to me to feed my bedridden LO for the past couple years. I struggle with what to buy at the grocery store and what to offer him also because his tastes are very different than mine, and I never fully understood them. Now, he won’t tell me what he wants, claiming he doesn’t like anything, which doesn’t help!

To improve his calorie intake, I recently bought Benecalorie, a liquid 1.5 oz “food enhancer” with nutrients, protein, and 330 calories. It has a neutral taste, and I’ve started adding it to his food. I also ordered Thrive ice cream, which has extra nutrients. I’ve heard it’s tasty! These are what patients are given in rehab, so I’m hoping it helps. Thrive also has enhanced gelato in different flavors.
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Reply to JuliaRose
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When they get a certain age u just have to let them eat what they want especially if they buy their own food ... I just keep my mouth shut because I don’t have to live with her and take care of her .. eventually they all will lose their appetites and quit eating altogether likevmy deceased father did.. he went on hospice and died couple days later ... u just have to let nature take its course after they get a certain age..they don’t want to live if they can’t eat what they want... it’s their life
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Reply to Sherry1886
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