Mom not eating enough but eats sweets.

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Mom eats like she is in World War II food rationing even though she never went through that. 3 grapes, 1 piece of toast, lean cuisines, anything that takes no effort even though she is fully capable. However, she can't exist without all her countless sweets, cookies, candies, icecream. If I make her something or we go out, she eats so the only thing I can come up with is she doesn't want to do anything that requires any effort. Also, she wants her hand held (not literally) with her eating, I do not have time to sit with her through all her meals especially since she is capable. I do most everything for her and wanted her to do somethings by herself so she has to think and function, if I do everything for her, then it becomes expected and it's one more responsibility I am saddled with. Eating out costs a lot of money so we do that sparingly. I am worried she has terrible nutrition and not eating enough, she say's food just doesn't interest her until you give her something made from someone else. Very Frustrating!!!

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Rainey, I hear your frustration. One of the mysteries of dementia is what gets left intact and what "goes". Often, at least with my mom, who has vascular dementia, this sometimes changes from week to week.

What has minimized my frustration (and my mom is in a NH, so it's not constant) is acceptance that I cant fix or change things. I can try to ameliorate, i can advocate for her care, but nothing is stopping the downward spiral. We notice that mom's ability to hold a spoon is much better if she's eating ice cream than when she's eating real food. Motivation ? Probably. I try not to let thinking about that stuff too hard get in the way of enjoying what time she has left. I'm also, frankly, not looking to prolong her life with "good nutrition". I just want her to smile.
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There is more going on here than ease of preparation, though that is certainly part of it. It does not take more effort to have 15 grapes with lunch than to have 3. Her lack of interest in "real" food is an issue here, too. And that often goes with dementia.

Does she still have a sense of smell? Some forms of dementia ruin that, making food far less interesting.

She has little interest in eating food and even less in preparing it. I think you are going to have to accept that as her reality.

You (and she) are very lucky that she still has interest in her appearance and in her garden. Keep in mind that it is even more devastating to deal with when a person with dementia seems to lose all interest in everything all at once.

Frankly, I wouldn't be so worried about well-balanced and healthy food intake. Sure, provide that and hope for the best. But dementia is a terminal illness. She is not going to recover from it no matter what she eats. You cannot prevent the progression no matter how much you try to make her think about her meals. If you want to encourage some mental stimulation, do it with things she is interested in. That is not food preparation.

What other things might Mom do? Fold laundry? Dust? Cut out grocery coupons? It is nice to have something meaningful to do, but it doesn't sound like preparing her own food is very meaningful at this point.

Before I realized that my husband was experiencing cognitive decline but knew he wasn't likely to make his own lunch I'd make a sandwich before I left the house. I'd call him near lunch time and remind him there was a sandwich in the fridge. OK, he'd eat it soon, he wasn't hungry quite yet. And I'd come to find the sandwich still in the fridge. Sigh. It soon became apparent something was wrong!

I very much like Babalou's suggestion of Meals on Wheels. My mother loved it. And when anyone would ask if her lunch was good that day she'd always start with what they included for dessert. "Oh yes! There was apple crisp and a piece of chicken and some broccoli."
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Rainey, your mother sounds like a woman of my own heart. I hate cooking. It may be because I've had to cook for myself and others for 40 years now, and it is so monotonous.

How old is your mother? She does sound like she is capable of doing many things. I think the most you can do is buy healthy and easy selections for her to cook, then let her make her choices. Does she have at least one healthy meal a day so she can get her fiber and vitamins? It sounds like you are doing all you can in buying good food and encouraging her to eat it. We can't control them completely. All we can do is the best we can.

I agree with you that she should continue to do what she can. Rote memory is important when someone has dementia. They will be able to do the things they are used to, but if someone begins to do them for them, they will soon forget how to do them. It's good to put that off as long as possible. Has your mother had a blood chemistry workup to check for important vitamins and minerals? If you know an area she is lacking, you can add a supplement to her diet. (I do that for my mother for Vit D3 three times a week, since she doesn't drink milk or get outside much.) Having her blood checked may give you some peace of mind that her nutrition is staying within acceptable bounds and that diabetes is not setting in.
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That sounds very frustrating! Do you get any alone time?

There comes a time when all we can do is change the way we behave or react. Can she be left home alone for a few hours? If so, stop taking her to the grocery store with you. If she cannot, try ordering your groceries online and getting delivery. Or, can you drop her at the senior center down the road while you go off and grocery shop? However you can, cut down on the amount of sugary foods you are buying. Researchers are discovering a very strong link between sugar and dementia/Alzheimer's.
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Rainey69, if your Mom had lymphedema in one leg I would assume that would be painful to stand on.... could be the reason your Mom is doing meals that are very quick to prepare. Too someone who finds standing painful, even making a sandwich can hurt because of all the items one needs to make that sandwich.
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Babalou,
This is a woman who can shower, put her outfit together and dress herself, add her accessories, do her full make-up, style her hair, paint her nails, go out in her garden and manicure her plants, polish and clean her things, so how is it she cannot prepare a sandwich? I think it is because she doesn't want to, not because she can't. She manages to turn on the oven and cook her frozen entrees when she is hungry but as long as it takes no effort. I even got a device for safety to wear just in case she falls but since it does not go with her outfits and her accessories, she refuses to wear it. Her dementia is that her memory fails her with finding the right words, past history, short term memory issues so she can't drive anymore. She has ALWAYS been the queen of denial her whole life so that hasn't changed. I want her to use her brain as much as she can, the more I do, the less she has to think and she will get worse. I am a caregiver and work part time and know the warning signs when someone is incapable. I have even tried getting her to go out and interact with other people and she refuses unless I am there with her. We have a wonderful senior facility within minutes of where we live and she won't go. She has lymphedema in one leg very badly and I care for that leg on a daily basis. I do a lot for her but she does not want to put any effort into food and everytime we food shop, the list of things she wants gets less and less. But boy, gotta get her two pints of ice cream, her cookies, candies, or then we have an emergency! Sorry if I come off sounding snarky but she is more than capable of making a PB&J or opening a can of soup and heating that up, she just chooses not to. That is where the frustration lies.
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Ensure and Boost are not meal replacements. They are meant for short term use and under the supervision of a dietician. They also are loaded with sugar.

Your mother needs balanced meals. You need to determine whether or not you can cook and freeze meals ahead of time so that you can heat and serve. If you can, then your grocery store's weekly circular is important especially for proteins, which are the most expensive ingredient.

To satisfy her taste for sweets, I recommend finding some sauces that are sweet to go along with the protein but use sparingly.

My meatloaf, for example, has a glaze made out of ketchup and brown sugar. For chicken, I use a glaze made out of apricot or peach jam with some soy sauce.

Caramelized onions add sweetness to a protein but can also be used as a sauce for mashed potatoes or pasta. I make mash out of yams, sweet potatoes, and carrots. Roasting vegetables brings out their sweetness. I roast trays of seasonal vegetables and freeze them for future use.

One of the best ways I've found to cut down the amount of time cooking takes is a large crock pot that fits a whole chicken or roast, which will yield many portions that you can freeze. Between the crock pot and the weekly manager's specials at the grocery store, you can make meals that are healthy and surprisingly cost effective.
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I remember back when I got groceries for my parents, there were so many sweets on the list you'd think it was a teenager making out the grocery list. My parents were in their 90's, and since neither had issues with diabetes, I figure at their age let them eat what they want.

We also need to realize that our parent(s) are not burning up calories as they aren't rush about. Thus, they would be less hungry then you or I.

Yes, snacks are easy to eat, and I bet after trying to create meals for the past 50+ years [over 55,000 meals], one runs out of ideas. Yesterday for dinner I had Sun Chips and an apple :P
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I just read my response and realize that it might come off as snarky--it's not meant that way at all. To put it better, Dementia is a progressive disease. what your mom was capable of last week, or even yesterday might be gone today. What feels like manipulation and purposeful neediness is often real need.

So evaluate her skills with care. Don't assume that she can still do meal prep herself, without cueing or guidance.
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What about a nutritional shake or drink like Ensure or Boost?You can add chocolate syrup to the chocolate flavored kind...or what about custard with it's good eggs and milk in it?
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