Mom has decreased her eating lately and acts like it is hard to breathe when she tries. She says nothing is wrong. What could it be?

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I am primary caregiver and went on vacation for two weeks, I was told Mom was eating well but since I've come home she seems to be eating less and less. When she does eat, especially at dinner, she looks like she is having a hard time breathing and eating or possibly in some type of pain, she denies either, but she refuses to tell us when she is ill because she does not want to go to the doctor or hospital. I do not think she is eating much more than 1 to 1 1/2 cups of food total during the day,

She has dementia, is 85 and weighs about 95 pounds. She takes meds for arrhythmia and coumadin for blood thinner.

As an elderly person I know their food intake can go down and if its hot no one may feel like eating much, but the seemingly labored breathing thing has me worried and I wonder if it could actually be her heart or what?

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My 92 year old mom has greatly reduced her food intake. She also had a couple issues with difficulty breathing/swallowing when eating. Her doctor has her take a prilosec daily, and that seems to help. We never saw any symptoms of reflux, and she never complained. Other than that, she eats one meal/day and maybe a snack. or two. She doesn't like the liquid supplements because they are too sweet. She will eat gelatin, so I get the clear supplements & use it to make the gelatin. She will eat a decent amount of food when she is at the senior center. I think the group of ladies there are encouraging her. It's easy to say NO to the family member.
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Raven ... it sounds like your Mom and my Mom are about in the same place and it is puzzling behavior. Mom has been eating less and less barely drinks any liquids. Sometimes her breathing seems labored, but generally okay. She's pretty fragile. She has generally lost interest in any of her favorite foods. I can't really tell at this point if she is "shutting down" or not.

At first I was really bothered by the changes in her eating, but I accept that if she's not hungry or doesn't want to drink much then I don't want to force her. As long as she tells me she's okay and comfortable then I don't worry. During the last year she has begun to lose weight. She's been to the doctor and all of her blood work and tests are fine. There is just this general decline (she's 95).

I also have some animals that are old and they seem to be going through the exact same process. They eat, but get thinner. You'd think that they aren't being fed but apparently is just a process where the body can't metabolize food in the same way.

The only thing the struck me is that you may want to keep an eye on the coumadin since it is greatly affected by food intake.
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Just a repeat .. " ... Unless she simply wants to slowly decline ... " I'm an advocate for choosing our own time.
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Captain: I wondered if this may be the beginning of shutting down, but I am unsure as she is still watering the garden and even mentioned tonight that she has to find a project to dig into rather than sitting around. She is not laying in bed somewhere like my father when he passed away. She just doesn't appear to be at that stage yet. Granted it may just be beginning but I am just unsure.
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increase shmincrease. as the bodily systems shut down little to no food or water are required. to cram food down the patient is the equivalent of watering a dead flower..dehudration released endorphins that negate thirst and hunger as well as produce a very natural and humane euphoria. your mom will get to the point where she isnt even interested in that horrid boost drink. shes shutting down damnt. her mobility will decrease hourly. let the poor girl die. sometimes even concentrated oxygen is detrimental to the shutting down that the organs are trying to do. dont prolong her misery..
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Thank you for your input LadeeC: Mom does not tell us when she isn't feeling well because she does not want to go to a doctor or hospital, therefore we have wound up with her in the hospital due to pneumonia or other things. She is really good at hiding her symptoms as she really wants to die. I just have not seen this behavior from her; cutting the quantity she eats but taking some deep breathes like it is hard to breathe or perhaps being in pain, but when I ask her what she is feeling, she gets ticked and says, "Nothing I'm fine!"

I have tried to offer her other foods and she either refuses or will accept and then I find that cup of ice cream in the freezer or see the drink tossed down the drain. This is so frustrating!!!

Then her doctor retired and sold his practice to and HMO that she does not belong to however the new doctor will see her with her Medicare, now today when I need her I find out the new doctor is on maternity leave and the doctor on call is not all that great, actually I kind of wonder how he became a doctor. I am feeling the frustration.
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It's possible that the heart (or veins) is failing to pump well enough that the lungs aren't getting enough to process for oxygen (my dad had really badly clogged veins, causing one of his lungs to collapse .. took the docs almost a week to figure it out, because they thought it originated with the lungs .. turned out it was the blood flow).

Unless she simply wants to slowly decline, a visit to the doctor for other possible causes is certainly in order.

There tends to be a cycle: eat less, move less, eat even less, move even less because she's weak. I'd be inclined to boost her daily intake with whatever it took to increase protein and caloric intake: most favored foods, protein shakes, smoothies, nutrition bars .. small servings, more often. And, watch her output: are her stools healthy? Her urine? Do you take her vitals on a regular basis? We take vitals to establish a trend .. not freak out at the odd ones .. we get 'off days', but when the vitals climb or plummet rapidly and stay there, we try to figure out what's going wrong. Is she in pain? Might she have a UTI? Is there a stool blockage? Hearts, lungs and brains aren't the only organs we need to worry about.

When our seniors can't or won't vocalize their pain levels, we have to count on expressions, a lot. So, we've learned to recognize the various levels, from discomfort and tired to suffering in pain.

Gods .. who knew I'd end up, as a caregiver, being a diagnostician? I've learned more about the human body in the last four years than I ever thought I'd need or want to know.

Let us know how it goes, okay?

Blessings
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