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Hi all for the last few days mom does not want to eat much. She will eat breakfast and have some fruit and take her meds. After that she does not want anything at all no snack and wont eat lunch or dinner...(My mom has always been a good eater even at 95!) I have been through this before, but it just does something to me. I start to think maybe a bladder infection ( she wears depends and that bring up another issue getting her to change them.) I said we got two cases mom we can change them no problem and most of the time she will go for that. I cant get her to go see the doctor or even her day program the month of October she went every Wednesday her only day to go ....I was so happy that she wentand got of the house. We have a very small group of people that we have contact with and I think that has something to do with her moods she can be very mean at times and well ....There is some dementia there and she uses a walker and has a ostomy bag ...I had to learn how to clean and change this had hearing aids and will tune you out if she does not like what you are talking abput lol. I was only going to talk about her not eating but I just kept on typing so I guess I needed to vent. And I did not mention that I wear ALL OF THE HATS. And I am taking a online coure for medical coding and I am half way through the course...I study when she goes to bed. I welcome any commets/ suggestions that any one may have to say about this post. thanks much god bless and have a great evening.....Purplerain :-}

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Your post indicates just how concerned and taxed you are by what is obviously your excellent care giving of your mother. As a registered nurse and gerontologist, I wanted to address the appetite side of your question. It is important to understand that as you age, your appetite naturally decreases for a number of reasons. Most obviously and mechanically, there could be poor dental work causing discomfort. There is also a decrease in taste buds making food not as tasty and attractive as it was before. Furthermore, dietary restrictions such as low salt and low fat cut into the tastiness of food. Elderly people also have been known to grab what is easy rather than what is nutritious because it takes too much time and energy to prepare proper meals. You are right to suspect an infection because the sudden loss of appetite you describe. It could very well point to some sort of pathology and blood work at the doctor would be required for a diagnosis. You also mention that she can be ill tempered at times which may also indicate that some elements of depression, which is widespread among the elderly, might be a contributing factor. In addition to ruling out or treating any infection, making the food more enticing with herbs and spices to replace some of the loss from lack of salt and fat should help. Small meals consumed several times a day might be more palatable than the usual three squares they have had all these years. It is important to be very selective about the foods chosen and stocked in an elderly person’s home. Since they eat so sparingly, every mouthful should be as nutrient rich as possible. Anita K. M.P.S., R.N.
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Before my mom entered the final stages of Alzheimer's the doctor said to let her eat anything and at any time she wants, just so long as she eats. But those days of your mother eating like she used to are over even if she's okay. Older people eat less and less generally.
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Purplerain, my mom loves her sweets. She would eat donuts and pies all day long if I let her. We found that some of those things were causing some severed diarrhea so we backed off on the pies.
We will often ask my mother in the early afternoon if she is hungry and wants lunch and she will say no. Then I'll say something like "why don't I make you a half a turkey sandwich" and she will say, sure I'd like that. For some reason if I ask her if she is hungry she will say she isn't but 5 minutes later she can be asked again and say she is. I'm not sure if it is the dementia or if she doesn't know that she is hungry. So, we feed her lunch and then she eats well at dinner, but very slowly.
We don't give her any snacks throughout the day because those would only be cookies that she wanted. They are okay occasionally but we are still concerned about diarrhea flare ups.
There are so many foods that she can't eat now that I'm wondering if one day she will just say she doesn't want to eat.
I think that all of this is trial and error. Try variations. Ask her at different times of the day. Keep going on if you or she can. Best to you.
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reddoglives, as for little Red. the solution is a bellyband. A belly band is a cloth band that you can put a women's maxi pad inside of and when the dog lifts it's leg it pees on the maxi pad and not on your furniture. These can be purchased on Amazon and other online places. Google "dog belly band" and plenty will come up. Then buy a package of women's maxi pads from the drug store and this should solve the problem of the dog peeing in the house. We use them when we travel with our dogs because for some reason they love to mark hotel rooms. They don't mark at home just hotel rooms.
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Reddoglives, we have waterproof protector over the mattress, and we have one of those 3x5' waterproof pads underneath the fitted sheet. That way she can't feel it against her body and really doesn't know it is there. We have a couple of those so that when mom does soil the sheets we can pull that off with the sheets and replace them all. Your mom might not like the feel of the pad so put it under the fitted sheet and see if that is okay with her.
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Red have you tried pee pads for the dog? When my mother went into a NH a year ago I inherited her little dog, Sue, now 4 and house clean sort of. My mother would take the dog for a walk in the afternoon if the weather was nice. Other than that Sue went on pee pads or the carpets. I have a large backyard and a middle aged black lab adopted in April. Sue will go outside with Ash and they've both learned "Go hurry up" but I keep a pee pad down all the time anyway as I doubt she'll ever be totally clean. I read that using pee pads teaches hem it's ok to go in the house but if devil dog is going indoors anyway and is blind the smell of the pad will encourage him to go in that spot.
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Sounds like you are doing the right stuff, it just does get overwhelming. My mom hated me asking/telling/suggesting she empty her mouth before putting in more food. She did seem to tolerate being told her "swallower was broken". There are some incontinence pads that claim to hold lots of liquid, check out the catalog Independent living. Take the dog to the vet, see if the peeing is a signal that the dog is done with living. If the vets says it is time, have her write a note or tell mom, and give mom a week to say good bye. Tell mom the dog will wait for her on the other side. Again, it sounds like you are doing the right things. See if someone can give you a few days off. There is respite care or visiting home health plus a caregiver for during the week. Then you go some place nice and don't even think about home.
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Well when my mother-in-law stopped eating at 87 and the home brought in a priest to give her the last rights, I decided we would go every day to feed her, I know that the West Indians have a very nourishing drink called Irish moss, we went there and fed her everyday she lived on for a further 21 months on Irish moss, you can get it in different flavors, peanut is quite nice.
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My mother also doesn't like to eat very much. Also in her 90's, she's been facing her own set of health issues over the past 6 months, some of which have her worried . Her primary care physician prescribed mirtazapine, which is a mild antidepressant with a side-effect of increasing appetite. The next time you talk to the doctor, you might want to ask if depression could be partially to blame for the lack of appetite.
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Part 2 I would like to give all of us caregivers a great big hug for all the work that we do everyday for our loved ones it is not easy. I will try to get my mom to the doctor asap and as always be watching for any changes . thanks again and god bless you all Purplerain.....:-)
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Thank all of you that answered my post about my mom not eating much. As I read the answers I got the feeling that this is the start of her shutting down get some hospice and prepare yourself. I do know that my mom will not live forever and I have accepted that ( I used to be selfish about her leaving me but no more you are born, live and die and she has outlived all her brothers and sisters.and just so you all know she ate a good dinner tonight and asked for snacks before I cooked dinner I thought what ever it was is over now and tried to rush me getting it ready.
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You mentioned after her meds she won't eat... could be them. Water is a good idea. I was told by a hospice doc for my patient, it's more about fluids. If you can get her to eat anything that's good. But a liquid supplement will help. If you think bladder infection, gross as it is, smell the urine. If she refuses doc, try otc products.
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Sorry about the previous vent but needed to get it out and not be cranky with her...she also has eating issues...like she get the chew-swallow sequence mixed up and tries to swallow things before she's even tried to chew it. Her foods of choice are what she got used to eating when she lived by herself...chicken pot pies, frozen mac and cheese, and an occasional hot dog. She wants cinnamon toast crunch cereal every single day for breakfast. I can't tell sometimes if she really likes this stuff or doesn't remember what some of the other things are called. I try to be careful with what I fix for dinner and make sure it's something she can chew, that's not to spicy. Insists on her Lil'drums ice cream cones every day after lunch and dinner. Basically if every thing that passed her lips was slathered in sugar she would be happier. Before we moved her in here she ended up in the hospital because her potassium was so low and she used to get horrible bruises on her arms and her skin would just break and bleed. That does not happen any more and I think it's because she actually gets food with some vitamin C in it here. She drank ensure when she lived in her apartment but not so much now...Like someone else suggested I try to keep a list of things that she seems to eat well, and keep it around. That way she knows that if we are having something that she would rather not eat she can always get one of her pot pies or something. She has been sleeping more and more during the day. I was told that as long as she's eating and going to the bathroom to more of less leave her be. I read a book called the 36 hour day and it has a lot of good tips for dealing with the food issues too. Good Luck.
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Sorry but I need to vent...my day started with my mother n law (91) soaking her bed...I have her in the heaviest duty pull ups I can find to order for her...she does not want to wear an actual diaper...she does not want to use the bedside commode I bought her, (says it's to small) ((she's not a large person and her butt is no bigger than anyone elses)) She is getting to weak to make it to the regular toilet on her own...any way this morning we had to strip the zip on mattress cover along with all the bedding...I got her cleaned up and to the table for breakfast...when I went in the other room she managed to get the lid off of her travel cup and spill water all over the clean clothes I had just put on her...got her changed and in dry clothes and decided enough was enough...I ordered her the thickest diapers they make for adults for night time. I went and bought a waterproof mattress cover, and also put a small waterproof pad over the sheet where her bottom goes when she sleeps...she does not like those either...explained to her that these are changes that we just have to make...(her not liking any of it at all) topped off my day when I went in to finish making her bed and found out that her little dog (the bane of my existence) had hiked his leg and wet on her wedge shaped pillow that she thinks she can't sleep without (even took it to the hospital with her)...little Red (her dog that we've spent 3 years getting almost house broken) almost got the express trip to the pound...I was so mad I could have cried if I thought it would have helped...thank you for letting me vent...the only reason that dog lives today is that we have tile everywhere except the master bedroom...that is Mom's room now so that she will have her own bathroom and a large enough room to have her chair, and entertainment center with her tv and own cable hookup. We made the garage into a bedroom for us...no heat out there so I also bought an electric blanket for us today...I love my mother n law, I really do but today my attitude is in the toilet...her dog is 15 years old, insulin dependent diabetic and blind as a bat...I was told I should be able to outlive the little beast...today I felt like making sure of it.
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Both my parents got fussy about eating. Think about nutrition as a whole day goal rather than in meals. With my Dad, who lives with me, I keep strawberry ice cream, strawberry slimfast, and strawberry Activia yogurt all he loves. He loves cookies/candy and there is a protein bar that is like wafer cookies that he likes and high fiber toast with coconut spread and maple sugar (good for his pooper). He also loves fresh fruit which is very good for him. He likes different veggies than I do ,tomatoes, beets, sweet potato, corn, peas. He has trouble swallowing, so there is lots of lite Veganase mayo on his dinner plate. And suddenly, he loves terriaki sauce!?! He is reluctant to drink enough fluids, but will drink water with crystal light, I don't want to give him sugar that might dull he appetite. He takes about 90 min to eat his dinner (in a bowl), his back hurts so he eats in his recliner/riser. Over the course of his day, he gets what he needs, usually not so much at a "meal".
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There are so many reasons that our beloved seniors stop eating that there could, almost, be a book written about it. Some of these reasons are:
Age; body just doesn't want food, is beginning to shut down as part of the end of life process.
Mouth problems i.e. sores, tooth or gum problems that make eating uncomfortable.
Loss of smell, (most important sense for appetite). Sometimes spicing up food, if she doesn't have stomach problems, helps them better 'taste' the food.
Discomfort with foods of certain textures; hard to chew i.e. steak or pork chops, hard crusted breads, etc.
Illness i.e. bladder infection, sinus infestions, etc.
Stomach/gastrointestinal problems.
Arthritis in hands, wrists, elbows and or shoulder, (makes using a knife/fork/spoon to get food into mouth very painful and difficult)
So, as you can see, it's not easy to diagnose whe root cause of ones not eating.
The bottom line, however, is how much discomfort you are willing to put your mother through in order to asuage your own feelings of guilt. It's important to weigh your actions against her own comfort level. At 95, is it really worth it to put her through the aggrivation of seeing a doctor or a dentist and have them put her through a barage of uncomfortable, and often invasive procedures?
I agree with ferris 1, offer her nutricious food supplements i.e. Ensure, but be aware that, if given full strength, they can cause diarrhea; mix them with milk at a 50-50 ratio. Vegetable juice, (V-8 like but get the other brands without added sugar or sodium), or the vegetable/fruit combinations, and water them down using a sparkling water, i.e. Arrowhead or Calistoga, (lime, lemon or orange flavors work well). Also putting a small plate of 'finger' foods near her that she can nibble on at her leisure.
All of these are things that I had to deal with while caring for my own mother at her end of life and none of it is easy. I now work with seniors with Alzheimer's/dementia and have learned that there is no 'one size fits all' answer. I wish you all the best as you take on the honorable task of sharing in her end of life journey. She is, indeed, very fortunate, as are you.
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Try Ensure or another high calorie drink that she can use to take her meds with. It works for my Mother and she loves it.
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This is a frustrating situation for me and my mom, as well. Not only does she need the nutritional value of the food for obvious reasons, but she is diabetic, so what and when (and if) she eats affects her meds which affects everything else. AND she is newly undergoing chemo for stage 4 lymphoma and now has another whole list of ToDos food and water wise. Previous posts are right, tho'. Whatever you can observe that works - write it down and keep trying it. It may change from day to day, but often, she'll "remember" that she likes it.
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My doctor prescribed a medicine called megestrol which increases the appetite and it worked for my dad.
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Hi Purplerain,
It's so difficult when we want to see our parents eat and they choose not to. My mother has good days and bad days for eating. I started tracking what she does like to eat and what she doesn't and I realized that food consistency had a lot to do with it. She likes food that doesn't take a lot of chewing (yogurt, mac and cheese, ground beef mixed with pasta, fish, etc.) My mother also loves the green drinks that I make for myself. Her doctor okayed it, and she gets the veggies that she doesn't necessarily like to eat (e.g. spinach, kale, carrots) and fruit, protein, etc. I also add some coconut water for electrolytes and also add a scoop of protein & fiber. It's not unusual to want our parents to hang around as long as they can. I applaud you for looking for ways to make your mom comfortable and ensure proper nutritional needs are met.
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Does she have trouble swallowing and might be afraid to eat? My Dad had that problem and near the end he couldn't swallow at all and could only have liquid with a thickener in it and pureed food.
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I was face with the same thing in 2011 june, my mother had started in april in hospice and what i did was put some ranch, ketchup, honey on a plate, chicken nuggets cut in small piece, tried each sauce, she stared eating, from then on i gave her one bite of food with out sweet, then one bite of sweet, i do sweet potatoes with butter and brown sugar, also oatmeal and sweet pot. or prunes help digestion write everything down so you know what works, we are still on hospice, dec, 13,13 she stop walk, I firm believer keeping her at home and talking to her each day, careful keeping skin protector on flare ups on skin, lite massages on marks from sheet each day help, its like feeding a toddler also water with a syringe help, also mixing apple juice with water, i have given her sugar free koolaid with water so she would drink water, also sugarfree cranberry, chopped grapes, water melon juice, blending smoothies using ensure and frozen or fresh fruit i even make sweet pot. smoothie with oatmeal, fiber is need to keep everything moving. Hope this helps Dec. 13, 2013 still on hospices since april 20th 2011!
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At 95, she probably doesn't want to eat much. You do realize she will die, as all of us do? Stop trying to force her into your world. Let her be who she is right now. She will eat when she gets hungry and if she doesn't after 3 days, call in a doctor. Encourage her to drink water or some liquids. They still make house calls. We are all wearing all the hats when caregiving a dementia patient. The trick is, to take some time for yourself and allow yourself to just be with your thoughts without thinking about all you HAVE to do. Merry Christmas!
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I suggested Ensure to my 90 year old Mother when she stopped eating. She has Dementia and believe she just didn't think about eating. Matter of fact she would say she forgot but her stomach was growling like crazy. As long as I bring meals in for her she eats and has gained weight. She has Hospice so they deliver Ensure to her....she likes milk chocolate. I knew one man that had stopped eating anything but Resse's peanut butter cups. My friend was more worried about him not eating than nutrition. Don't know how he did it but it's all he ate for 2 years before he passed.
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My mother is in a NH. The food will keep you going but, frankly, I wouldn't feed it to my dogs. I've tried taking her a nice lunch but eventually quit when she wouldn't eat it and I can't force her.
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It might be good to try avoiding fruit, as it may make her feel uncomfortable inside, and unable or unwilling to eat. Maybe offer her something containing a digestible protein and some vegetables instead. One of my "go-to" light meals is hummus and lightly steamed vegetables.
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The less you eat, the less you want to eat. My mother, in a NH, eats so little and weighs less than my labrador.
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BTW, my father loved eggs. Boiled, scrambled, fried -- he would eat them. He was of an age where I was less concerned about his cholesterol than I was able his nutrition, so I made them for him 2-3 times a week. They are light and full of vitamins, proteins, and fat.
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In the last years of my father's life, he didn't like to eat the normal meals. He enjoyed snacking very much, though. He liked things like ice cream and yogurt. He loved cookies and fruit. I used to buy individual servings of things so he could browse for what he wanted. Ice cream was his absolute favorite. I felt good about that, because he was getting some nutrition in his junk food. I would also do things like make bowls of sweet strawberries for him. He didn't like heavy meals, but he liked salads. If I could describe his preferences, it would be light and sweet. He didn't want bulky meals.

When he was in the hospital during his final days they found that his stomach was inflamed -- perhaps a virus they said. I wondered how long his stomach had been inflamed and if it played a part in his picky appetite. Or maybe his picky appetite just came from getting closer to the bridge.

Your mother is of an age that it isn't unusual for her appetite to wane. If she doesn't want to visit her doctor, Jeanne's suggestion of hospice sounds like a good idea to me if you think your mother may be nearing the end of her life.

I hope you do well with your program of study. Concentrating on the material is difficult, I know. We so much want to fix things so the person will feel better, but sometimes we can't fix them. We can just make them as easy as possible. Maybe you can try a few light foods to see if your mother will eat more. Getting a few extra calories into her may take some of the worry off your mind.
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I like the idea of having an evaluation for hospice. If Mom qualifies she will be made as comfortable as possible without having to go out to see a doctor. The nurse can advise you about things like her eating. Hospice can also arrange equipment to be loaned, such as a hospital bed and a bedside commode.
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