How can I deal with meals for elderly parents, especially one who complains about everything I do?

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I prepare three meals a day, seven days a week for my dementia father (who has swallowing issues and his food has to be pureed) and my mother (who has mobility issues). I try my best to make appealing and nutritious meals for them and also make meals for my husband. It is really getting to be too much because my mother complains about what I serve her, except breakfast. She pokes around the meal and when she asks what it is I know she doesn't like it. I told her that it would help me tremendously if she would tell me what she would like, but she can never tell me so I make what I think she would like. I have caregivers seven days a week, but they don't cook meals, they only serve them and hand feed my father. Promptly at 9 a.m., 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. the caregivers come to ask me if the food is ready so they can give it to my parents. Cooking meals has become a major source of irritation to me because now I feel like I am tied down. Sometimes I get frozen meals but my mother complains that she does not like the meat. She does not like pasta or rice so I don't make it. I find it hard to hear criticism for everything I do, especially when I put in so much effort to make it. My husband likes everything I make but my mother is a hard one to please and it makes me feel like I don't want to do this. I find her attitude rude and unappreciative.

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"Yep mom, I never was a good cook. Maybe you should try assistive living. I hear they have gourmet meals there!"
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Let her know her options. Next time she starts the whining state that her choices are she either eats what has been made or she can have a slice of butter bread in lieu of what's for dinner. If she doesn't like those choices, she can either wait until the next meal or starve, this isn't a restaurant.
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"Thank you for the feedback, Mom. If you're finished, may I take your plate?" She won't starve herself, and you can't make her eat. Let it go.
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When my Dad complains about my cooking, I apologize for being a terrible cook. And tell him that Mom should have spent more time teaching me. Then we both laugh. ha-ha-grrrr. Actually I'm not a bad cook, it's just not to his liking I guess. If I had caregivers in the evening, I would make it THEIR JOB to cook. Seems like you're getting the raw end of the deal.
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demstress, sounds like your Mom might be depressed that she cannot cook anymore. I know my Mom would have been totally lost and very upset if she couldn't cook for my Dad.

Has your Mom been checked for acid reflux? That can do a major number on one throat with a hot burning feeling, usually caused by tomato and citrus type foods. Even chocolate, and colas. I have that issue. Another food issue could be dairy products which can do a major tap dance on one's stomach. Both my Dad and I had to use Lactaid products which were very good sub for regular milk and ice cream :)

How are your Mom's teeth? That was one issue my Mom had, which made her menu some what limited.
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Where I live you only have to be over 65 and/or disabled to qualify for MOW. If you're not below some income thresshold, there's a charge, but I was very ok with that for Dad. They took quite a load off of me when Dad needed them, and I'll always be grateful. Actually, at some point, I hope to be able to volunteer for them.
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Thank you all for your responses. My mother has mobility issues and does not cook. She depends on me for her meals. I checked into Meals on Wheels but she does not qualify. This evening when I went to give her medicine she couldn't wait to tell me what a horrible meal I made. I told my daughter what I made and she said it sounds delicious. Perhaps my mother's taste buds have changed and some foods do not taste good. If only she would tell me what she wants. For some unknown reason she cannot do that. I will talk to the caregivers about preparing meals.
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Is preparing meals not in the professional caregivers’ job description? Our caregivers prepare breakfast and lunch and we cook supper. That’s just the way we set it up. If food preparation is allowed I would delegate this to them. Your mother may not complain as much when someone other than you prepared the meal.
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We had a question very much like this some time ago. You will never please your mum. That is how she is - rude and unappreciative. Setting boundaries about her complaints would help you. "Mum, this is what we are having for supper. If you don't like it there are microwaveable dinners in the freezer. Help yourself." Answer her very matter of factly. I agree Meals on Wheels  and Ensure are other alternatives if she doesn't like your cooking.
Cut off her complaints, change the subject, talk about the weather...
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Let's them complains and ignored, they will make you miserable till they don't know who is making their meals! They will not starving to death!
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