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My mother who is 87 started off with Alzheimer’s that turned into dementia with sundowners. I’ve been taking care of her for almost 8 years now. As the years have passed, she has become incontinent, doesn’t recognize anyone, chokes when she eats or takes her pills, babbles when she tries to talk, no longer walks. When she stopped eating a few years ago, I would coerce her to eat every hour until she started eating again. But this time it’s different. She does not want to drink her sweet tea or her ensure, she only eats a few bites of watery flavored oatmeal. She just stares into space a lot. I've decided to just let her be. I currently crush up her pills in sugar water and use a baby syringe to give it to her, I still feed her, but when she turns her head away, I stop. She now only eats a few bites twice a day, in the morning and before she goes to bed. She takes a few sips of sweet tea and that’s all she wants.
She has always said that she never wanted to end up like my grandfather, but currently she is just like him. She saw her Dr. a couple of month ago , I was told her blood work came back perfect, but her mind was a different story. I’m always being told that I’m doing a very good job, but at 57 I’m tired.
I spoke to my siblings and they tell me that it’s time to quite forcing her and just let her be. If she doesn't' want to eat or drink, just let it be. As long as I try and it’s available, that is all that I can do. I feel guilty for the decision in not coercing her to eat or drink. Yesterday was the first time I didn’t make her eat. My mother was as mean as a snake and just as nasty, but she is still my mother and I’ve been taking care of her for a long time now. I keep thinking is the decision to not make her eat and drink because I’m tired and not thinking clearly. Am I making a bad decision? Is it wrong to let her go? My parents were married for 60 years. My father went suddenly and has been waiting for her for almost 8 years now.

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I think it's time to have her evaluated for hospice. They can help you come to terms with her illness and letting go and letting her go. It's hard. I saw my cousin work to get my aunt to eat and vowed I'd never do that. I struggled with it myself when my mom didn't want to eat anymore. But with the help of hospice, I understood where mom was in her letting go process and I was able to offer her food and let her be if she didn't want any.
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I am almost in your same boat...but my mom is still eating when offered food. When she does turn her head away, or just bite the straw, I just stop. I will offer again later. Like cwillie, I have made the decision that I will never force food or water (nor would we do an IV fluids or feeding tube) but will simply offer it. I think you are doing everything right.

I always say that some decisions are easy and others are much more difficult. This is one of those really hard ones but it is the right thing to do.
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You are absolutely doing the right thing. The body decides on it's own when it no longer wants to be fed. It also is dangerous when some one can't swallow and the food goes into the lungs and causes pneumonia. Keep the food the consistency of soup and only offer it by the teaspoonful. Nothing special anything can be liquidized. Present it in a pretty small bowl but just a tiny amount. if she likes her sweet tea but can't drink much again the tiniest cup you can find. Ary a sip cup but she probably won't take to that.
Above all loose the guilt you have done more than right by her all these years which is probably more than she did for you
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You should offer, you should encourage, you should assist. You should never force. The second you find yourself pleading with your mother beyond what seems reasonable or kind, you're overstepping the mark anyway.

So, shed the guilt. I think you "suspect" yourself of being prepared to "give up" because secretly, subconsciously, it's what's "easier on you" rather than what's best for your mother? - a lot of inverted commas there because I'm trying to guess at what's going through your mind, this isn't what it looks like to me or anything like that. If it's the easier thing to do it can't be the right thing to do? is that how it feels? But not so! This time, the opposite is true.

Seriously, best practice, all the protocol, will say don't make your mother eat if she doesn't want to. And give her what she likes. If it's nothing but hot tea and a few spoonfuls of oatmeal, so be it.

She may yet recover a bit of her appetite, you know; so do continue to offer her alternatives, little tit-bits. But you shouldn't drive your mother too hard trying to avoid the inevitable. What's best for her is a soft landing, with a little of what she fancies along the way.
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I've always vowed that I would never "force" my mom to eat. While she lived with me I could tempt her with treats or change meal times in order to try to catch her when she was in the mood to eat. Now she is in a nursing home so it is harder, but while she never asks for food she doesn't usually refuse to open her mouth and eat when it is mealtime. If she does I respect that and hope she will feel like eating next time. If the time comes when she continually refuses or is unable to swallow her food I will know that it is time to let go.
I've bookmarked a great youtube video with Teepa Snow, Alzheimer's: Letting Go at the End of the Disease.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=mNJxq4J5kYY

Hope you find it helpful
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