How much of MIL's own diet do I let her control?

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Aging MIL has been living with us for the past 2 months, ever since second stroke affected her vision. She was at first content for me to shop and cook for her, but has recently begun asserting her independence more. She kept insisting a week ago that she needed groceries (even though the list was mostly things we already have in the house) and then in the store started arguing about wanting to buy various junk food items (she has diabetes and high blood pressure). So my question is, should I just let her have the junk? I don't want to take away her independence, but if it were up to me I would definitely not be feeding her donuts! What's the best way to compromise on food and other personal choices?

Answers 1 to 8 of 8
It’s baffling how elders, many who ate carefully and healthfully all their lives, want to eat junk food when they are older.

I guess I’d try what I did with my daughter when she was growing up and make a rule—your MIL can have two junk food items only. The choice is hers. It’s worth a try.

This is for when y’all grocery shop and she is along!
As long as she's competent and has her own money to buy her food, I'd stay out of it. I mean, I'd likely provide some healthy options, but, if she wants junk food, imo, that's up to her. Granted, it might not be the healthy thing, but, if people are competent, they have the right to eat unhealthy foods.

I try to pick my battles and monitoring my LO's diet is just not one that I chose to pick as major battle. I do keep my eye on major meds and ensure there is no ladder climbing. lol
Very difficult when the person is living as part of your household. Why should you compromise on what you buy and store and cook for your family? On the other hand, why should she give up her enjoyment of treats? I'm not sure there's a right answer - except maybe that she can buy what she likes with her own money, she just can't expect you to join in with the exercise. Have you tried sitting down with her before you set out and writing her definitive shopping list?

But actually what would worry me more is her anxiety about needing to shop for groceries in spite of the fact that she really doesn't, and you've explained that she doesn't. That sounds as if she's a bit disoriented, and that would make me worry about her mental state. Have there been any signs since the stroke that she's beginning to lose the plot a bit?
Top Answer
Well if you've had to change your life to take care of her because of her medical conditions, you have a very vested interest in keeping her healthy and a right to call the shots - your house, your rules. And yet, at the same time, you don't want to feel like a jailer. I'd allow her one junk food item a day, her choice. Otherwise, she needs to eat healthily.
This is a battle with my mother. Her sweet tooth is almost as big as mine! Since I'm her live-in caregiver (and she can't move around without assistance) I get to control what she eats; however, I let her decide. I don't tell her she can only have a couple sweets a day. I offer one first before she has to ask. It's sugar-free [SF] (she's diabetic too) if I can find them and in small portions.

I make all her meals, so I give her a choice of pretty healthy foods. I haven't taken her to store in months (thank goodness--that was exhausting and full of arguments). She wanted all junk food. I figured out that if we go to the store again (not likely), since she's in a wheelchair with baskets, she can hand me what she wants then as we move along and I pass by that spot, I will replace the item. She'll never remember she wanted it.

Before when she could walk around easier than she can now in her home, any sugary snacks were where she couldn't see or reach them. SF snacks were where she could reach them and help herself if she chose.

There are SF puddings and whipped cream, so I dollop a small amount on the small cups of puddings. I buy boxes of small drumstick ice creams. I ask her if she'd like pudding or ice cream. She's happy because she gets to choose what she most wants. I'm happy since they're small and/or SF I'm happy she's happy.

My two sisters criticize me for doing what I do since they just give her what she wants as much as she wants! They refuse to listen when I say I have a duty to protect her, yet I balance that duty with giving her what she wants with junk food that won't force me to load her up with insulin.
Thanks for all the thoughtful answers here!

She does have memory problems from the first stroke; she often makes lists of things we just bought or puts the same things on her list twice. But she is attempting to feel independent, so I don't discourage her. I like the idea of limiting the junk food but allowing 1 a day. I just feel frustrated when she particularly digs in or gets negative or belligerent. I guess that is normal and I need to try to stay positive and offer alternatives and not "sink to her level". She has not asked to go grocery shopping since our argumentative trip over a week ago, so that's a plus!

We have a visit with the neurologist in a week; we'll see what she says about this behavior. Until then I'll try to offer sympathy and healthy foods, and not worry too much about an occasional lapse. And if she has a real urge to go back to the store, we'll have a discussion (and perhaps a snack to stave off hunger) and a clear, short list for her to follow (not just the one on my phone), beforehand!
You might also research vascular dementia or metabolic dementia - uncontrolled or poorly controlled diabetes (and if her strokes were diabetes related, very common afterward). The brain is broken and good decisions go out the window. Facing this with a friend right now :(
Yes, guestshopadmin, these are all things that have crossed my mind, and will be discussing with the neurologist! Further indications to me that we are doing the right thing by having her live with us while we search for a longer term care situation.

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