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My mother is 81. She has senile dementia and paranoia. She is very funny about food. She doesn’t want to throw anything away. I found a jar of fermented okra in the fridge and showed it to her and told her I was going to get rid of it. She looked like she had a demon in her eyes and told me to leave her food alone. I put it back. I can tell she’s not eating it but why keep it? And other things to that need thrown out. Stale crackers and other jars I’m afraid to open.

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An 90 year old relative is in the hospital right now due to a fall caused by dehydration/low sodium related to diarrhea. She thinks she got food poisoning from the meals her senior living place provides, but the dairy products she was eating before she got sick were way out of date. She had condiments that expired 10-12 years ago.

I threw it all out. She's not happy with me, but how could I leave it when she is in the hospital due to gastro issues???
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Reply to faranlee
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My Dad liked those small cans of mushrooms, as a snack. He got deathly ill one night and ended up in the ER getting his stomach pumped. He opened the can, thought they smelled a little funny, so he poured a lot of sugar on them. Found the BULGING can in the trash. Had expired three years before. OMG. Didn’t know it then, but that was Alzheimer’s.
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Reply to BeckyT
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My FIL actually taught me a valuable lesson: Diet Coke can go "bad". I don't know HOW LONG he had kept this 2 liter bottle in the pantry, but he had it there for me when I visited, in case he ran out of the cans he always had. (I am the only DC drinker, so that was super sweet). Cleaned his pantry once and found the old DC and opened it--OMGosh, was it awful!

Mother can't reach into the back of her fridge, so she lets stuff "ferment" a lot. I don't say ANYTHING. I just throw it out. She hangs on to everything. Bags and bags with ONE stale cookie each.

There's no point in showing them the food. It just does not register that it could go bad.

Another point that someone once brought up--elders often have a very hard time washing their hands as often as they should. This would explain mother's phone encrusted in food bits--her remotes, the doorknobs---she cannot seem to remember to wash her hands well. Any food she's worked with will mold much more quickly with dirty handling.

The one day a week I see her, for about an hour, I just chat away and wipe down whatever surfaces I can and always clean her phone and the doorknobs. Throw out bad food and she has never said anything, so I don't think she notices.
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Reply to Midkid58
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They all hate to throw out food. I had to take care of cleaning out fridge and cupboards when mom was not there. She never missed a thing!

Worst thing I found was two cans of out of date tomatoes (about eight years, if I remember right). They had fermented to the point that both cans had exploded in the cupboard. That was a mess to clean up!
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Reply to gladimhere
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If she has Dementia I doubt if she remembers what is in the frig.

I remember visiting my MIL for Thanksgiving. She had bagels in her frig bin from the Thanksgiving before. They were hard. I went thru and found all her bread items in the bin were wayyyyy out of Date. I was going to toss them but husband felt I should at least put them on the counter. She wasn't appreciative but I told her they were not edible. Later she thanked me because it gave her room for TG leftovers. We didn't realize till later this was the beginning.
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Reply to JoAnn29
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Countrymouse yes my mom lives with my husband and I. We have gotten into arguments over food. This is a learning curve for me.
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Reply to Sunrose1
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Toss it while she is napping. Better to beg forgiveness than to ask permission.
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Reply to XenaJada
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bettina Jan 24, 2019
Thats what works for me. Dad doesn't have dementia but is kind of a hoarder. And just "whoops, sorry I'll get another one" if he really misses something . There is still some tension but alot less
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My dad was perfectly fine in his head, but his sense of smell diminished as he aged. I could tell the second I walked in the house that there was rotting meat in the refrigerator. He couldn't believe it, but sure enough, I'd open the fridge and there it would be.

Try pointing out to your mom that you can smell the stuff is spoiled. She might be touchy about having a house that smells and acquiesce. That worked with my dad. He actually ended up ruining his refrigerator with the smell of rotting food that won't go away.

That's only if she finds out you're tossing things because I agree with the others to just toss without warning. Above is just if you're caught.
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Reply to anonymous875604
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LightingRod Jan 24, 2019
I'm still laughing over your last sentence re: "caught". That sums up life with my demented mother to the T! I have to sneak around and try to rid her fridge of frightful things without being caught, too!
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Dads the same. In his eyes, its worse than being a serial killer to buy food and waste it. If I leave a crust on my plate he will comment. I think it goes back to the war when everyone had little food.

Then again, I alway remember my dear old gran. Cooked me an omelette when I was a kid. Tasted a bit funny. So I said "Gran are those eggs in date". Her reply "Eggs don;t go out of date".
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Reply to paulfoel123
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I agree with all who say to just toss it out without calling attention to it or saying anything. My mom had canned goods and condiments over ten years old in her pantry and fridge and she constantly bought way more produce and other perishables than she ever eats so constantly rotting food was piling up in the bins in her fridge. Sometimes she would toss the spoiled produce but mainly just because she needed to put more in! She wouldn't let me toss anything if she was looking, so when she wasn't little by little I removed the oldest items and was able to make progress now and then. She also had a large freezer that was full of frozen dinners that were several years old, as she tended to only eat the most recent ones she was buying and replacing. Last year when the estate sale company came in, they went through all the canned items and tossed all cans and bottles of food items except those with dates that weren't past their "Best if used by" dates. That was a huge help! Some of those good canned items sold and the rest was donated to a friend and their family. The issue with my mom was more that she was a child of the Great Depression, and firmly believed it was important to have a stockpile of food in case of emergency so all that food represented security and tossing it, even if spoiled, was akin to a sin.
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Reply to DoingMyBest2
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In the beginning- and actually quite a ways into it - I use to think my mother was just messing with me. Having a laugh at my expense when she’d act in a way or say something that was just so bizarre - it left me stunned - mouth hanging open, jaw dropping stunned. After all - my mom was a smart, smart woman. The smartest woman I have ever known.

If there is one “rule” to follow - one thing you should take to heart - as you are dealing with your aging mother - it’s what cwillie said.

What I have come to call The Golden Rule of Dementia. And, that is: There is no reasoning with Dementia.

Just do what you need to do - be as sneaky as you need to be - in order to keep your mother safe.

If you wait for her to agree with you and/or for her to understand and see things from your point of view - nothing will ever get done.

Dont wait for the Botulism to set in.
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Reply to Rainmom
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Ok, so it isn't just my mother keeping spoiled food in the fridge and she gets mad when I throw it out. But she knows (I think) that the fridge gets cleaned out once a week. If she has old can goods that I know she will eat I will replace them with new ones. If can goods are out-of-date and I know she will not eat it I just throw them out. She doesn't seem to ever miss them. I know it seems mean but she is always buying food that just sits around taking up space. Ugh

I don't say anything to her about it and she doesn't ask!
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Reply to Shell38314
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Sunrose, is your profile correct? - Your mother is living in your home?

Your kitchen, your fridge rules I'd say. If your mother wants to keep some of her own speciality items, fine, but you can still insist they have to be within recommended Use By dates.

Or, could you surreptitiously substitute fresh jars of okra, say, or new crackers for the ones that have expired?
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Reply to Countrymouse
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I was able to clear out Dad's fridge, but only because there had been a 4 day power outage and he was not there. I am not saying that he would have kept the food in it after the power outage, but it was inarguable. His fridge is immaculately clean at the moment and empty for the next few months. He is living elsewhere for the winter.

He let me clear out one food cupboard last June. There was food with best before dates going back a decade or more in it.

I do not touch the other cupboards, although I know there is food that needs to be tossed.

Dad does not have dementia, he does tend to hoard food. He also can no longer reach the top shelves of cupboards. Perhaps this June I will have permission to clean out another cupboard. I have to use clear garbage bags when tossing anything in his home and ask him about each item.
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Reply to Tothill
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What do you hope to gain by showing her the spoiled food? You can't reason with dementia, their reality is different from ours and you won't convince her of anything. You already know she is resistant to giving up control, so just surreptitiously sort through and discard things that are spoiled.
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Reply to cwillie
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againx100 Jan 23, 2019
Don't ask, don't tell. Items that are unsafe, just get rid of them.
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