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She's in skilled nursing and is on comfort & care for a year. I feel like a nag everytime i visit. She can't possibly be getting more than 300 calories a day. She drinks gingerale, eats cheetos sometimes soup. She's not defiant, just not interested in eating. She knows her 6 children. Has dementia, repeats herself. Her discomfort level is in her tailbone b/c there's no fat or muscle. She remains pleasant. She has a morphine patch for tailbone discomfort. I wonder what she's thinking and what I can do for her. How can her organs continue to function? 12 months. We thought we were going to lose her a year ago. Any thoughts would be most comforting for me. Thank you. Pat

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Try sprinkling sugar on her food. I do this with my mom who is 99 and does not want to eat very much. she will eat sweets and sprinkling a little sugar on her food seems to help.
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I know with my mil her appetite decreased and weight loss was noticed after she fell and broke her hip and was in rehab for a lengthy stay.


Before her fall she always loved to dine out but her cooking at home had diminished to soup and sandwiches and chips and she always had her morning coffee and pudding cakes. She had kept a steady number on the scale on this diet. But after the fall and now getting excercise in rehab her numbers fell, plus she did not care for the low sodium cooking the center offered, even though it would benefit her high blood pressure, and she could salt the food at the table.

We could see the weightloss and voiced it to the facility personnel in charge but she thrived on the attention she got from
everyone noticing and the concern we had. It became a game of attention to her and her favorite topic, then she withdrew eating food even more. We offered to bring in food from her favorite restaurants and it was always declined, so we thought don't ask just bring it trying to tempt her and it was left to rot in her mini fridge and never reheated.
She also judges overweight people now all the time, which is offensive to me. From stress I have gained 30lbs since caring for her and my fil and I haven't changed my diet. I blame it on aging to (I'm almost 50) where as years past with stress I would always lost weight.

To GayleV that is awesome the new med has helped your father and good to know. I have books of notes for mom now and I refer back to find ideas that might help when needed.
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My mother also almost died from overactive thyroid. She also had almost no taste buds due to some medications. Basically, she just forgot to eat. Before she moved in with me, I would call her every meal time and talk her through making and eating her meal. Like sherry1anne's mother, mine also has dementia.

However, due to the change in her medications, my mother either now has a little appetite or more taste buds - she's not sure, herself - but she's now got a little of the opposite problem, where she sometimes forgets she eats and eats multiple times.

So, as others have stressed, if there's anything that can reasonably be done to increase the appetite, that can be really key to changing things.
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I began using slightly smaller plates but compacting the portions to look smaller. I also read somewhere that the color orange stimulates the appetite, even in napkins or the dishes used. Some things I just made smaller, like a very small slice of pie on a very small plate. I found she would then eat this but if it was large on a larger plate she would complain it was too much and not even touch it.
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I agree with testing her thyroid. Dr.'s do tend to overlook that test. Does your Mom eat alone or in the dining area? Being with other people and eating together makes a lot of difference. Try not to say to much about what she didn't eat, but brag on what she did eat. Use smaller plate with smaller portions. Sometimes they get overwhelmed seeing large plates and large portions, so they just don't eat.
Reward her with some sweets when she cleans that smaller sized portions up. Reward & reinforce good behavior.
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My mother almost died from overactive thyroid, but underactive could cause the same symptoms. Have her thyroid checked ASAP. Most doctors ignore thyroid symptoms. Dementia is also a symptom of thyroid problems also loss of appetite. My mother's hyperthyroid went into congestive heart failure because her doctor was an idiot. Don't let this happen to your mother.
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I believe this OP's mother, and my Dad both really do need the calories. The fact they they are losing weight proves they are need and are burning calories. They are just using up their own body's fat and muscle to get them. Losing 50% of a person's body weight (in a year?) or even worse losing 25% in only 2 months (like my Dad) is just not sustainable for much longer. And neither is likely to survive long if they continued to lose weight at that rate. Their organs would eventually such down. ...To PatAlto, I think you are right to be concerned, and I feel it's worth the fight to do what you can for her. But that being said, even though the Megase is helping my Dad for now, it most likely is typical late stage Alzheimer's making my Dad lose his appetite. And that's not a battle we can win in the long term.
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These people aren't active anymore. Their bodies don't need as many calories.
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To answer your question - I don't know, but they do survive on starvation diets. My mother is 100 and has been anorexic for the past 20 years. She looks at food as if it is going to jump out of the plate and bite her. She's down to 97 pounds. For years she has survived on ensure, yogurt and the broth from soup (never the solids) and sometimes sweets. Here's the kicker - she is on no meds, is never sick, and has no heart problems, normal bp and normal blood tests. Maybe starvation diets are life extending?!?!
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Don't forget, overactive thyroid can cause a number of problems. Mom's doctor never tested her even after a 30 lb loss over a period of time. She was tested after she almost fell, and was put in the hospital.
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Dad is having similar issues. He started having less interest in anything except sweets several months ago. And then generally was eating less. He would just take a few bites and say he'd had a enough. He liked the Ensure shakes, but left most of them too. In December he fell at home, spent one day in hospital and a month in rehab. Two days before he fell he weighted 166 pounds. Thirty days later he entered a memory/dementia care facility weighing 145. Five weeks later he weighed only 120.

The doctor evaluated him, and said there was no apparent evidence of any problem other than no appetite. (No swallowing difficulty either) To look further for a cause would have meant some unpleasant testing that we just decided against. So the doctor started Dad taking a medication called Megase (megestrol acetate), It's a type of hormone that increases the appetite.

Dad's been on it about 10 days, and the difference in his appetite has been amazing. Before I would always bring him some of his favorite treats to tempt his appetite when ever I visited. Donuts, brownies, pizzelles, pudding cake. He would just take a bite or two, and that was it. Totally refused anything that might have actual nutrition in it. Now he downs every bit, and chows down on his lunch barely an hour later. You'd think I'd put some marijuana in those brownies, the way he's been eating. This morning he polished off nearly an entire box of Girl Scout cookies in the 10 minutes it took me to go pour him a cup of decaf. (We may have to adjust the dose on that drug. LOL.)

Anyway, you might suggest the Megase to your Mom's doctor if he doesn't have other ideas.

(Just FYI, the insurance company is giving us some flack on paying for the Megase. Doctor is submitting for an exception. We'll see what happens, but we'll likely just pay out of pocket, at least for a while, if the insurance company refuses.)
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Has her swallowing been assessed by the facilities speech language pathologist? I find that dementia patients often have swallowing problems, but they can't articulate that. My father in law would say " I can't eat, I can't est" but what he MEANT was he couldn't swallow.
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Pat, Is your Mom drinking any Ensure, or Glucerna if she is diabetic? My Mom drinks 3 of these a day to supplement meals. Blender drinks are also a big help. If she is in a nursing home maybe the dietitian there could give you some information and I would express my concerns to her or him.
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Thank you for the response. We have tried various foods. It's more a lack of desire to eat vs. taste. She loves ice cream, but just isn't interested. I just don't know how her organs continue to thrive.
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One thing my Dad said that for him growing old is that he is losing his taste buds... things just don't taste the same. That is probably why my parents have so many sweets around the house to nibble on, they can still taste sugar.

If your Mom isn't on any type of strict diet for medical reasons, like no dairy or no sugar... experiment to see what she might enjoy and can still taste. Cheetos's [if she doesn't make an orange mess out of those]... thin mints... Little Debbie snacks, etc.
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