Mom will only eat restaurant food. What can I do?

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My 85 year-old mother has been not eating and drinking much for almost a year now. Most days now, she only eats one tiny meal and about 12 to 24 oz. of beverages. She will ONLY drink soda (that's not the problem, though). I've been doing ANYTHING for this woman to keep her strength up and I've been buying her whatever she asks for, which is usually takeout. She will NOT eat home cooked meals. She will throw it in the trash. I am a good cook, so it's not that (lol). She'll have nothing to do with supplements and all of that. Dr. told me to give her anything she wants to eat at this point, just to get calories. She's not in the "danger zone" yet -- she still has to lose another 30 - 40 pounds before she gets underweight, but here's the thing: She's always asking for takeout food that is only sold in large portions, and usually they're costly. She will only eat things like pizza from her favorite local eatery (they don't sell by the slice), or bbq ribs, rotisserie chicken, Chinese, fried seafood, etc. It's getting so that she either thinks she wants them and won't eat them at all, or she'll eat just a tiny portion and the rest will entirely go to waste -- so I end up eating all the leftovers and I'm gaining a ton! Not even food I like! I tallied it up for last month, and she ordered $189 worth of takeout food. I'm gaining all the weight that she's losing. Now I KNOW that I'm completely going CRAZY. No one in their right mind orders that much takeout in a month. But that's what I've been doing, so she'll eat SOMETHING! I've been told that this is common end-of-life behavior to have no hunger or thirst. Please be kind and don't make fun of me or insult me.

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Top Answer
Maybe you can order from the childrens menu? If its a local pizza joint, maybe they can make a smaller pizza for you.
What is your primary concern?
- That Mom isn't eating enough
- That there is too much wasted food
- That she can't afford the food she likes
- That you feel compelled to eat the leftovers

$189/month is about $6/day. If I could eat only restaurant food and average $6 a day I'd be thrilled. I probably spend that on restaurant food each month and have my regular grocery bill for homemade meals on top of that. I know hard-working men who spend $10 or more on fast food and other restaurant lunches every single work day, and often order pizza on the weekends. I'm not recommending this approach for health reasons, but it is common. It is not only people who aren't in their right minds who spend that much per month on restaurant food.

Of course, your Mom is not a construction worker burning up the calories! But you and her doctor do want to see her take in calories, and this is one way you can achieve that goal. Is the problem that she can't afford $6/day for food? What is her food budget?

As others have said, what about freezing the leftovers? Or just serving them in a couple of days? If cost is the issue, can Mom understand that? "Mom, we can't afford to buy another chicken dinner this week, but I'm saving half of this for you before you've even touched it and we'll re-heat it on Wednesday." I buy only full-size meals at restaurants (not the senior or child portions) so that I can get 2 or even 3 meals out of each. That is one way to stretch the dollar and avoid waste.

If Mom can afford the restaurant food, then I think the other concerns are within your control. Can't stand to see the waste? Prepare a nice plate for a neighbor. Or grit your teeth and throw it out, considering it a part of the cost of Mom's disease.

Remind yourself that you are not the garbage disposal and it is not your job to eat excessively just to see food used up.

I'd have a hard time throwing perfectly good food out, so I feel your discomfort. But I think I'd suck it up and keep buying Mom the food she thinks she likes, to the extent that she can afford it.
Windy, you're kidding about the pizza, right? Cold pizza is one of my favorite breakfasts! :)

Which goes to illustrate than when it comes to food preferences, one size does not fit all. And when you add in diminished taste buds, interference from drugs, and maybe dementia is it any wonder our parents are hard to please?
Not eating and drinking at end of life means exactly that, what your mother is doing is more like an unhealthy obsession with takeout. It sounds as though she lives with you? I expect she has dementia otherwise I can see no earthly reason why you are even attempting to cater to her. Even so I don't think you need to give in to her obsessions, if she is losing weight it isn't really working any way.
BTW, why can't you freeze the leftovers for another day?
well my mom are 1/2 of a grilled cheese sandwich then 4 apple pies from Mcdonalds yesterday. Pretty much the only thing she will finish is dessert lol
Loosing your sense of taste - truly one of the cruelest of old-ages bag of tricks.
During my mom's final years, I spent more on convenience food. For me.

The time I used to spend on scratch ingredients, planning, cooking and clean-up.....I instead spent making sure mom's bills were paid and trying to make sense of her diminshed logic and hoarding and secrecy. Oh -- and making sure mom's fridge was full of food!

Just a long way of saying, you can't win with this stuff. And it only gets worse.

Can you "embrace" the take-out somehow? Perhaps make a conscious effort to spend less on groceries, to help offset the cost of the inevitable take-out meals? Then somehow use/freeze mom's leftovers to augment your meals? Maybe freeze some chicken/beef/veggies to add to your own CrockPot creation? Use mom's leftover potato wedges to make breakfast home-fries for yourself the next day? And such.

Hang in there. It s*cks to constantly worry about money and an ailing parent.....and feeling like your own health is taking a hit. Many on this forum can relate.

Try to squeeze in a quick walk once a day. YOU are worth it! It's so easy to lose ourselves in all this. The fresh air and momentum really helps the mind and body reset. (((hugs)))
My mom is very much like yours, though she is in assisted living. She'll try and push 3/4 of her meal on me saying she doesn't like to waste food. It gets embarrassing when she insists I eat it in front of staff, sometimes quite loudly. I don't. No is a powerful word and I am an adult.

To folks that said to freeze leftovers. Gah! Leftover pizza! Not going there!

I'm in a unique situation (that yes I haven't used my NO! on) where my mom won't go down for evening meals. I've brought meals the caregivers can heat up in a minute since 2011. And I hear you OP. It's always been good homecooked stuff. She was really happy with that until about six months ago. Now everything I bring her is wrong. Pasta not good (constipating), rice she doesn't like, meat is not good, doesn't like fruit, soup is too hard, everything is Wrong or Bad. Geez.

Her mental decline is showing. At restaurants it is very difficult. She blames her arthritis in her hands for problems with eating, yet she still wants to go out to dine. She'll have maybe five bites.

I cut back to taking her out with my husband to once a week because I need to for my own sanity. I have lunch with her also on Wednesdays, call every single day and shop for her stuff and make meals for her about 5 hours more a week. Plus her laundry, paying bills, medical appointments, legal stuff, it never ends.

The food guilt, chuck it, unless it's a money concern. My neighbors would love the extra pizza while it's still fresh. My waistline wouldn't want it.

At the end of life does it really matter? Let the peasants or in this case the parents eat cake.
As far as the take out is concerned can you save what she does not want and freeze it? Also save the container it came in then when she requests same meal re present it. maybe she would'nt notice!!!!!!!!!!!! Ask other restaurants for a half portion explaining that it is for an elder who is no longer eating much.
As far as the soda drinks are concerned 24 oz is only 2 12oz cans and she has to drink something. My concern would be if they are caffeinated drinks which are not too good for the heart. Nothing can be done about the sugar if she won't drink anything else. It is probably not a good idea to substitute artificial sweeteners as they have their own dangers and she will probably notice the difference.
My FIL in his late eighties while frying up egg, sausage and fried bread remarked that he knew the risks but at his age he felt it really did not matter what he died from.
Veronica91, I love your remark "My FIL in his late eighties while frying up egg, sausage and fried bread remarked that he knew the risks but at his age he felt it really did not matter what he died from". I wish I could post a cartoon picture I have on my cellphone. It shows an old man, winkled, skinny, glasses, and hearing aids, bent over, sitting on the table. His walker is in front of him. The doctor says, "Remember the twenty extra years you added to your life through clean, healthy living? Well, these are them."

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