My Mom no longer has any appetite and has lost 7 lbs. in the last month. Any advice? - AgingCare.com

My Mom no longer has any appetite and has lost 7 lbs. in the last month. Any advice?

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I try to make foods that appeal to her but she barely eats. She has ensure which she'll drink once or twice a day but has lost interest in everything. She's in chronic pain and has loss 80 % use of her arms from bilateral ruptured rotator cuffs. She also has multiple medical issues including stroke, severe arthritis, multiple joint replacements, depression and anxiety, She's 88 frail and weak and does not want extraordinary measures to sustain her life. I'm hoping she begins to eat and gets a little stronger but at her age I'm not sure what the odds are of that happening. Has anyone seen this happen to their loved ones? Not sure what to expect. Is this typically what happens when they give up? I'm getting some help with a caregiver 6 hrs. a week to help with bathing and hair as well and housework and general companionship all hoping she would cheer up but she hasn't. The VA will hopefullly provide more assistance as she's unable to dress herself, do her hair, cut her food etc. I've care for her for 12 years and watch the decline. We've has a challenging relationship our entire lives but it's killing me to see her this way and possibly see the beginning of the end. I know many things can be done to interrupt the natural process and increase life expectancy but under the circumstances, it's probably selfish of me to think this way. She's has a beautiful MIL apt., attached to our home and is lucky in many ways but I think she's just tired. She's losing ground and now maybe it's just whether she loses it quickly or slowly, based on what I recommend to her. So torn, so very torn. After all my complaining, frustration and fatigue, I'm not ready to lose her. How can caregiving be such an emotional roller coaster ride. My dad died 12 years ago, I'm an only child and my mom is all I have left of my past, which hasn't been all good but nevertheless, I'm having a hard time accepting this.

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I bring her to the dentist every six months. Her teeth are fine but she does have partials she hates wearing. I've put another call into her doctor. Will see if we can get a hospice eval.
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I agree that hospice evaluation certainly seems appropriate if not done yet. Have you had her teeth checked? Does she have painful chewing or dental problems that could be somehow treated?
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AgingYogi, it is not uncommon for an elder to lose their sense of taste but can still taste sweet items, thus the reason your Mom will drink Ensure or Boost. As long as your Mom doesn't have diabetes, see if she will eat chocolate muffins, chocolate ice cream, anything really sweet. It's better than not eating at all.

Whenever someone is in chronic pain, they aren't going to be hungry, either. When I broke my shoulder, food was the last thing I wanted for a month and forcing myself to eat was no picnic. Try to get that pain under control, if possible, you might see a much happier person.
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I would get hospice in to evaluate her, in part because they take a much more pragmatic approach to pain relief. Many patients who get hospice care improve to the point that they " graduate" because they've improved so much. It sounds like your mom needs a much more holistic approach, which hospice should be able to provide.
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She was referred to a pain management clinic and the doctor started her on methadone which made her very confused, dehydrated and weak, consequently ending up in ER. He's cut her dose in half and it's helping along with other pain killers and so far no confusion. At one point she didn't know which was worse, being confused or being in pain but the doctor reassured us we should be able to find middle ground. I guess I'm unrealistic thinking she's going to get better.
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Why is she in chronic pain? I would sure be trying to medicate most of that away. Talk to her doctor. Due to mom's age, her pain level, her waiting appetite, etc., I think I'd have a frank conversation with her doctor and ask if he thinks she should be evaluated for hospice. It sounds as though she may be.

One of the Ensures has over 300 calories. You might make sure that's the one you're buying. You know, if she gets proper meds for her pain, you just may find she'll improve a bit. I'd make that goal #1.

Hang in there. It's a bumpy ride. And we're often sooo close, we don't see the forest for the trees, as they say.

Oh, give her tiny meals. Just a little. Sometimes a big plate of food is a turnoff. Like take the meat off a small chicken thigh, a big tablespoon of mashed potatoes. Gravy. That's it. Have grapes sitting by her. Finger foods. Ice cream. Make it all available in small amounts, but try not to force her. If her body is shutting down, that's the wrong thing to do.
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I can't imagine going through that with your mother. It must be so difficult. I see how my loved one's progression is going and it saddens me. She's my second cousin and it hurts, but she's not my mother. I think that would be more difficult.

Do you have anyone to help with her? I'd get as much outside help as possible, so you can spend more relaxed time with her, instead of the duties around her apt.

As JessieBell suggested, Hospice might be appropriate, though, I'm not familiar with their program. I've heard good things though.

How mobile is your mom? With all of her medical problems, I would try to some how give her more support in her moving around. I know we can't prevent falls, but I would try to safeguard if at all possible. (Check her apt for rugs, furniture, trouble areas, etc.) We had a family friend who was doing just like your mom recently. He wasn't eating, had gotten weak, fell and fractured his hip. He's now in the hospital and not doing well.

Best wishes to you and your mom.
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AgingYogi, it is hard to watch a loved parent slip away. People usually want less and less food as they near the end of their time here on earth. If that is what is happening with your mother, it may be giving you time to prepare for letting her go. Since she has rotator cuff problems and arthritis, you might want to consider bringing hospice in if the doctor thinks it is appropriate. They can help ease your mother's pain. You can work with them to make sure that the things they do are in line with what you want for your mother and her comfort.

We always hope they will pick up, and often they do. It can be like a roller coaster. But in the end we have to let them go so they can cross over. I like to think that when a loved one passes that they'll be waiting for us on the other side.
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