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Late last year, I told my Mom’s (82) Doctor that she still isn’t eating enough and losing more weight. She doesn’t do much but sit in her chair all day and watch TV and sleep. He suggested that she drinks Boost drinks. Much to my relief, she loves Boost and I was excited to find cases of 24 bottles at Sam’s club for $20 (sale price), but they’re back up to $25. I thought this was a great idea to supplement breakfast and lunch, but she’s going through a case in 4 days. Initially, a case would last a little over a week. As of today, a case of 24 only lasts 4 days, which means she drinks on average 6 bottles a day. While I’m excited this is working for her, she still isn’t gaining weight, but she doesn’t seem as weak or frail. The bigger issue for me is that this is an expensive solution and she is not eating prepared meals, except for when I bring them. She eats very little and leaves the leftovers to go to waste. She is essentially on a liquid diet. I have no idea how to get her to eat more food. I tried to cut back on the frequency of the Boost cases, but she’s going through them even faster now. Need suggestions as to how to figure out the best and most economic solution. Because of my persistence, she is now offering money. I told her I can’t afford to buy $25 cases every 4 days and don’t think she should spend money drinking that much Boost. Need suggestions and advice. Thank you!

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OK . I've gone through this with my husband. - he's 75 with chronic back pain, severe osteoperosis, and some other health issues I can't get into . . He drank 3-4 - 5 Ensures a day.

Then we discovered his blood sugar went way up. My husband is very good about gettng blood tests every month. Mainly because of Multiple Myoloma predisposition. But . .we both decided along with his GP . .to cut down on the sugars.

Now . . I'm into cooking . . fresh food dishes. For his health and I can work on my culinary skills!

Ensure . .Boost . . it's a good temporary patch if needed at certain times. But certainly not for long term food/nutrition consumption. All I'm saying is . .while she loves drinking the stuff . .her blood sugar is probably going through the roof. Not good.

Thats my take.
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BLTMom33 Feb 28, 2020
Thanks Blue24, this is exactly my concern...this coupled with the financial burden the Boost has had on our budget. Wow, Ensure is more expensive than Boost. I'm sorry to hear about your husband and hope he is much better now. But, totally agree that it was supposed to be a temporary solution to help her gain a little weight, but it has blown into what I feel is out of control. We started off where she was just drinking a 6-pack (@$10 week) to 24 bottles ($25) in 4 days. It's like a vicious cycle. I warned her last night that she cannot live off Boost alone and that she needs to eat too. The Boost was simply to supplement Breakfast and lunch, but she can manage eating dinners that I prepare, since she doesn't like all her Meals on Wheels options. Thanks for your response and sharing your experience. God Bless.
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I've just re-read this post & all the replies - lots of great experience & knowledge!

From my view, I see a loving daughter trying to keep her Mum happy, healthy & keep Mum's independance too but doing more & more. Hinting at getting more care/changing things but not wanting to upset.

I have been caught in this quicksand & suppose I had to, to learn the way out. What helped me was good old fashioned plain talking.

Some hard questions coming...

Is Boost the problem or just the tip of an iceberg?

If you zoomed out, way back - what's the whole iceberg (situation) look like? An elderly lady, living alone, not able to shop for herself, eat or drink properly, manage bills(?) or socialise.

If you broke your leg, could Mum look after herself? Could she arrange deliveries, collect medications, use taxis, get to appointments?

Is she really 'independant'?

My sister had a visit from Dept of Health. She told them "I live alone independantly".

After assessing her situation, the Rep said "You live alone *dependantly*. You are very dependant on your family. You cannot look after yourself. You need to move into supported accomodation". Not gentle or tactful - just plain talking.

Like a giagantic bandaid was just ripped off & we saw the wound for what is was.

I don't wish to cause you upset - but just some encouragement to get a real look at the bigger picture. (Like a diagnosis of the situation).
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BLTMom33 Feb 29, 2020
Hi Beatty, You hit the nail squarely on the head. My Mom doesn't seem to be progressing forward or in the best direction at this point. Meaning that she is doing minimally less. I've noticed bills unopened. She's been wearing the same clothes for weeks, and I haven't noticed that she tried to wash clothes or has done so in the recent weeks. When I call to check on her, she is sleep or just woke up. I was thinking that the Boost would help, but she is just drinking more of it and eating less. It truly is a case where she is declining and doing less and less. The last time I had her out of the house was when I had to take her to ER for a UTI. Since then she says she has no symptoms and I've gotten her ASOs to take with probiotics, along with cranberry juice. I think it is like a bandaid effect and more sores (not real sores) are breaking out and I can't keep up with them. When I ask if she is okay or how she's feeling, she says I'm okay, but reality is that she is in a vulnerable and dependent state by choice. She has a car, it's just rotten away because it sits, money, bills, it's just to the point, she has to let go and let reality of getting old take its course and allow some more help. Unfortunately, since I was laid off last year, my UC has run out and I'm back to having to work FT again. Thanks for a reality check, I need to hear this and it doesn't upset me at all. It's been several years of trying to help my Mom and failing at it as each day passes. I'm planning to engage the Aging Health groups for assistance and she'll be upset, but I can't let her continue to pretend she is okay. Thanks for all your insight and eye-opening suggestions. God Bless.
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I am sorry you are going through this. I know how difficult it is. My MIL did the same thing in her final years and I know several others who also lost their interest in solid food in their final years. I am 69, so many of the people I know have elderly parents or recently deceased parents. We all struggle to do what we can to keep our elders functioning as "normally" as possible. A few of us have begun to question the wisdom of trying to get our aging (and dying) parents to resume the eating patterns of their younger days.

I agree with those who have suggested that you find more nutritionally complete liquid nutrition that would be more like a meal. However, it may be a losing fight to try to cajole or force her to eat more solid food. Ultimately, the struggle will be yours, not hers, and you will probably lose.

I would suggest that you do make sure that she have good, soft foods available to her, like packaged macaroni and cheese and frozen scrambled eggs. Buy things that are real food, but soft. Another good option is little containers of cottage cheese with fruit. These things are not economical and they are not environmentally sensible (so much single use plastic!) but if they are present and easily available your mother may eat a little. Don't overbuy. For my mother, I buy just one or two of something, then check the refrigerator/freezer the next week to see if thy have disappeared. Usually they have not.

If there is nothing that you find that she willingly eats, you may have to reconcile yourself to the idea that her body is simply changing and her interest in the process of eating is failing. Take your time, spend time with her, try to enjoy what you can of her last year or two, and let the process work itself out. Try not to become obsessed with her eating. It will help neither of you.

When my husband's aunt, whom I loved as though she were my own, was in her final months I spent a lot of time in her hospice room. I arranged to work on my computer in her room several days per week (there are advantages to being a computer programmer). One day I was working in the corner and Aunt Dari's sister was by her side, offering her water, juice, applesauce, etc., etc., when Dari finally pushed her away and told me to please come over to her side. She glared at her sister, then looked at me and said, "She thinks that if she can force enough of that crap down my throat I won't die." Then she thought a bit about what she said and laughed. "I'll win this fight. You wait and see. I'll die anyway." Then she laughed again. I held her hand and we talked of times past, walking through Central Park, the flowers by the lake, all the good times. She passed about 4 weeks later.

There is no medical explanation that I have heard, but this happens so often that I think we should think about respecting the wishes and desires of those who are in their final years. The goal is not to keep them alive as long as possible, but to keep their life as good as possible as long as their bodies are willing to live.
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Chestershaba3 Mar 7, 2020
Thanks I'm so sick of people who say smash green beans etc to force them to eat! When they've lived too long and wander around not knowing where they are why drag this out?!
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If she has the money to buy the boost drinks then why is 50.00 weekly for her nutrition an issue.

If she is getting less frail and week I would be encouraging her to have 7 or 8 a day.
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BLTMom33 Feb 28, 2020
Hi Isthisrealyreal. You're absolutely right! She just started to give me money at my insistence that it is hurting my budget. While I am glad she is drinking more Boost and it is having some added benefits such as less frailty and weakness, I also feel that she should be eating food as well. Boost was just to accompany her meals, not be the only meal. She is capable of eating and seems to be using Boost as a crutch to not eat or worry about eating food. I also stressed that it will hurt her budget if she simply drinks Boost alone and not have anything else to eat, especially when food is available via meals of wheels, treats I bring, along with meals I make. I guess my point is that drinking Boost is expensive and eventually will impact her health. Also, why the heck am I cooking and bringing Boost and she's not eating my foods. She doesn't say, don't cook me anything because she knows that's not going to fly with me, so I checked her refrigerater and could see she went through a case of Boost 24 bottles from Monday evening to Thursday and the food that I made was still sitting there. Others suggested that she is too full to eat after all that Boost. But to your point, 7-8 bottles a day is $50 a week that she'll have to pay. She has the money but probably won't want to pay that and will look at me. I'm going to have a talk with her and mention that if she really wants to continue to drink and if the doctor agrees, we'll have to develop a monthly budget. Thanks for your response and encouragement.
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My sister (disabilites) does her own shopping is deemed competent to make decisions (good or bad). Buys chocolate biscuits, lollies, sugary instant coffee drinks, icecream & soft drink. Doesn't want to spend much on actual meals so buys supermarket brand pre-made frozen dinners (low cost but also low nutrient).

Sooo frustrating! The reason she lives this way as she lacks the cognition, attention & concentration to plan or cook proper meals.

Firstly, who buys the Boost? How often are you visiting? Could you deliver 7 for the week? Or of you live together, keep only 7 available (the rest hid).

Secondly, why are you paying? Doesn't your Mother pay for her own groceries?

Thirdly, she may have lost her hunger due to always being full (of Boost). Similar to how toddlers who fill up on milk don't eat enough solids.

Lastly, you can change what's in YOUR control: limit her access to more than 1 per day, arrange meals on wheels or other meal service a few times a week instead.

If she can phone order & pay & arrange delivery herself (like my sister) then you don't have much control except advising her & also her Doctor.

One last thing, does she KNOW she is having 6 a day? Is there short term memory problems at all?
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BLTMom33 Feb 28, 2020
Hi Beatty, Thanks for sharing about your Sister. My Mom hasn't shopped for groceries for several years. Along with Meals on Wheels, I've been doing all her grocery/necessity shopping since her release from the hospital following a 302, for severe depression/psychosis. She has been much better, thank God, and I took it upon myself to care for these things for her. I tried to take her to grocery stores to shop and she would decline, so it left me no other choice but to do it for her. In March 2019, I was laid off and my financial outlook changed. I mentioned this to my Mom as well. She has recently started to give me money because of my insistence and stress about the $25 cases of Boost. I feel bad because I've never asked her for money and was always independent and never needed her money for myself. I honestly cannot drink 6 bottles a day in 4 days, and glad that she was starting to drink them and improve a little. She doesn't seem as weak and frail, but it's frustrating that once I thought there was a solution, it turned out to backfire. She went from drinking only a few bottles a day and a case could last at least a few weeks. But a case will only give her 4 days at most right now. I check the fridge and there's uneaten meals in the fridge. There is such a fine line with addressing this with her and I feel like I have to walk on egg shells to avoid a behavior change. If I suggest she's drinking too much or they cost too much, she may opt to not drink them at all, which may negatively impact her health. That's what it's been like for the past several years. I don't know why she acts like she cannot do anything for herself, but that's partly my fault for always stepping in to help. My Mom may be having age related memory issues, but not dementia. She has had memory tests in the recent past that fortunately proved dementia was not an issue. However, I think her cognitive thinking is impaired by sleeping too much, not being socially active and not eating enough...all things that she states she is fine with when you try to address it. I appreciate your response and sharing about your Sister. Thank you for asking the hard questions and helping me to see alternative possibilities.
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You said "she is not eating prepared meals, except for when I bring them. ..... andleaves the leftovers to go to waste." Once I realized my dad was doing this I realized he could no longer live alone. My father had been the cook in our family and loved planning and preparing meals and then gradually I realized he wasn't really doing that. I tried bringing food, having delivery, etc but he really didn't eat anything much and although he said "save that. I'll eat it later" I'd just find it old in the refrigerator and he was living on Tastycakes and chocolate chip cookies. I think that the Boost is all she can actually manage to 'prepare' for herself plus she loves the sweet smooth flavor and texture. Does she have any dementia? Does she take care of her home and other needs independently? If no, I think you are getting close to a time when she can't live alone. Even reheating leftovers seems to be more than she wants or is able to manage to do. The Boost may be the best she can manage, providing protein and nutrients. Your bigger problem than the Boost is that is probably just a step toward her needing full-time supervision and assistance.
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BLTMom33 Feb 28, 2020
Thanks for your response and suggestion. I agree, she hasn't been writing out her bills for the past few weeks, which tells me that she isn't managing well on her own. She is just fooling me and I think it is time, but where would she go. I tried in home support or visiting nurses and she just pushes back. I'll have to have a hard talk with her to address this reality. Thanks and God Bless.
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Get her involve in a social activity perhaps? Can she walk? Can she talk? Senior adult day care, or a hobby outside of home? Botanical garden or day trips with seniors to museums? Try meals on wheels?

Protein powders with fresh fruit, in a blender may be cheaper. One powder I found and Sprouts.. called Bio-Chem protein powder. I think that was the name. Anyway, High protein powder you can throw fruit, milk or soymilk, ice, blend it. Save it for the whole day.
Instant Pot, buy chicken boneless skinless, add a couple bouillon cubes for salt and flavor. That lasts almost a week, with 3 pets, and me. Feeds all of us. Cheaper than catfood. Although your mom is not a cat, just saying, she can sip on the broth for a dinner, or lunch. I usually grab a cup microwave it for breakfast while getting ready for work. Then she can make chicken salad sandwich with the meat.. It's easy.. Although, I forgot to put back in frig this morning.. So I had to go buy another package of chicken. I think I will try a different protein. I am getting tired of chicken..
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BLTMom33 Feb 28, 2020
Thanks for the advice. I've tried the activities, daycare, pets, etc. She honestly doesn't like to socialize. She's been this way for so long that I believe she feels this is normal at her age, but it's so disappointing because she looks younger than she is and should have a vibrant retirement. It's heartbreaking, but I haven't given up on her and that's why I reach out to the AC family here for your help and feel truly blessed for your responses and suggestions. I agree with the IP chicken breast, that definitely lasts and we use it for soups. I add Lipton Soup packet, spinach, chicken and eggs for a nice sip and soup broth. Thanks so much for all your help. God Bless.
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They do always push back about moving. She is drinking boost instead of even bothering to heat up what you have made for her. It is time to move. If she has any money, start looking round at various facility choices. Assisted living or even independent living with a couple of meals a day might work well. A place with IL, AL and MC would be ideal. My mother would not heat
up what we brought her. If I made grilled cheese while there, she would eat it but she would not think to microwave food we had labeled. Then she started nuking leftover coffee until it exploded all over the place. She refused to move, said she was not interested but thought it was fine to have my sister come twice a day to make her food, do her laundry and clean her house (my sister lived closer, but is single mom, 3 kids with full time job. We told her that is not going to happen and you have to move. Doctor said you cannot live along. She did move. So hopefully you can stop placating your mother, find a place she can afford and move her.
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BLTMom33 Feb 28, 2020
Thanks dogparkmomma. I agree with your response. As soon as I mention, at home support, downsizing, etc., she ignores me or says 'nah, that's not for me'. But if something happens to me, she'd have no immediate resources to help her and sadly, would perish in a matter of days. I pray that she would make it easier and I really want to help more by not taking away her independence. She wouldn't want to live with me and would be uncomfortable, constantly paranoid or feeling like a burden. Alternatively, living in IL, AL, and MC, seems it would help because when she was hospitalized for dehydation for 3 days, she was enjoying the 3 meals a day, etc. I think she may be getting closer to wanting to move on without being a burden to anyone, including me. If I could find a place close to my house, it would be perfect and then I could visit and bring treats and enjoy visits and not worry about what I have to cook or buying BOOST to sustain her everyday. It has been truly draining, physically, mentally, emotionally and financially. Thanks so much for sharing and I agree that the time is near for her to get the help and support she deserves. God Bless.
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She is 82 and has earned the right to eat and drink what ever she wants. Let her enjoy her self. Don't try to get her to live forever. None of us do.
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BLTMom33 Mar 7, 2020
Thanks for your response. Yes she is 82 and I do police her diet, because I care for my Mom. However, to your point, yes she IS doing what she wants and she IS ‘enjoying’ herself. It’s me that is distressing about it and trying to make food to eat and also supplying Boost. She is not being forced to eat the food I prepared and she has a steady supply of Boost. I realize there’s not much more I can do and I am doing what works best and thank God, Sam’s Club has discounted Boost again. I always question if I’m doing the right thing, but based on your response, I guess I need to be more cognizant of my mom’s needs right now and stop worrying about my concerns about keeping her alive. :(
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Regarding cost, I order cases of Equate nutritional drinks which is the Walmart version of Ensure. Costs less and delivery is quick. Also no shipping charge on orders $35 and over. My 94 year old mother loves them. I blend ice cream, milk, bananas and peanut butter with them at times. They come in flavors of chocolate, strawberry, vanilla and banana. A nurse told me once "there's people who live off of those things" referring to nutritional drinks such as Ensure. Good luck to you and God bless. You are an awesome daughter for caring so much about your mother's nutritional needs.
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BLTMom33 Mar 8, 2020
Thanks Countrygal55! I’m going to look into some more options and I appreciate your suggestions. That nurse is so right. My autistic niece lived off of Ensure for the first 16 years of her life until she was weaned off of them. I’ve been lucky to get cases of Boost for $20-$25. I always try to remind her to drink Boost in addition to eating. :) Thanks and God Bless You too!
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