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I read I should concentrate on calories. She can still chew ok, but has a hard time swallowing. I make her smoothies. I'm running out of ideas.
And another thing, she sleeps all the time. I wake her up but she just falls back to sleep. I don't know if too much sleep is ok or bad.

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Raven1, I know the heartahce of well-intentioned attempts - I talked to the docs about trying pioglitazone for my mom, on the bsis of it helping congition and helping control diabetes better than just more and more insulin that made her crazy hungry especially for sugar, and the fluid overload did her heart no good. A different doc figuired this out for us and tried a different med, Januvia, that actually worked without side effects for her and the sugar packet stashing thankfully, finally went away. Some people don't think our elders are worth working out a specific diagnosis on, but I'm thankful we both found ones who cared and thought enough to figure it out and be of real help.
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I have to tell you I am experiencing a problem right now that began as Mom's appetite going away. She just began eating less and less and I wondered how can she live on so little food, so I contacted her doctor and asked for a refill of Megace to give her back an appetite. I did think about the fact that our bodies begin to shut down and possibly this may be what is happening but i tried the Megace.

Mom was rushed to the hospital with a very rapid heart beat and pain in the upper chest, back and going up the throat. She was hospitalized for 3 days while they got her heart beat back to a normal rate.

I had told them about the eating and Megace and the fact that when she ate she had bloating and a stomach ache of sorts but none of us put 2 and 2 together. Mom was having a gallbladder attack and it mimicked a heart attack. They increased her heart meds and we are having to pull them back down as her coumadin was way too much and her Taztia for heartbeat had been doubled and now she has swollen feet, ankles and lower legs and gained 5 pounds from water weight. All because I thought she needed to eat and she was not eating because she was getting sick but not telling me what was going on. She hates to go to the doctor and HATES THE HOSPITAL WITH A PASSION, ALTHOUGH I MUST SAY IT IS A BLESSING WHEN YOU NEED IT!!!!!!!!

I have said all this because many times there are reasons behind the behavior we just don't see the full picture. I jumped on something and by increasing her eating I think I may have made the gallbladder issue worse and now I am fighting like a crazy person to correct the matter!!!

Be careful!!!!!
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Sometimes the appetite is severely reduced because the digestion and shutting down to some degree.

My aunt went from eating heartily and really enjoying her food to pushing it away because it didn't taste right. That happened overnight. It turned out she had had two minor strokes in the area that effected her taste buds. The neurologist told me that even unnoticeable TIAs can affect the taste centers and influence appetite. He suggested that you sometimes have to accept an elder with many medical problems eating less and losing weight as the normal course of aging. He didn't suggest, wisely I believe, spending time and effort diagnosing the obvious as with dementia people, it only puts them through more stress and aggravation.
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Soozieq: I just look at food and gain weight and it amazes me that our parents can exist on such small amount of food. My mother had never been a huge eater and she chews each bite about 20 times before swallowing but she has always been thin and she has the best immunity.

I became scared at the loss of her appetite and asked the doctor for megace to give her more desire for food, now however she is having a horrible time with digestion, pain and bloating. I think she may be having another flare up of her gall bladder. This is not what any of us want to see at this time in her life!
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My heart goes out to you. It is so stressful to watch a parent starve themselves. My mother has had anorexia for the past 12 years - and she is 98 and still living in an independent living senior community where she gets 20 delicious dinners every month (of which she eats a few forkfuls - at $20 a meal! And still, we must supply her with more food she will eat or she would definitely starve.) She has never eaten well, or used common sense in taking care of herself. She just doesn't listen, and now with increasing dementia, we have just given up. She is just lucky she has good genes because anyone else would be dead by now. For the past year or so she eats only a few sips of Ensure, yogurt, the liquid out of soup, 1/4 of a sandwich (which she pulls half the meat, all the tomatoes and lettuce out of, no mayo, etc). She might eat a few forkfuls of mashed potatoes, etc but she looks at every plate given to her with horror. When we take her out to eat we get the child menu for her and she still cringes at the amount of food on the plate. She hides most of her food in a napkin and puts it in her purse. Yes, at this point, I've resorted to making sure to stock baby food, mainly the strained meat and fruit so she gets some protein. She will eat nothing different but she will eat some of that and sweets, which at least give her calories and some energy. She has lost ten pounds this year (down to 91lbs) and whether we are there or not, she barely eats and we can't force her. It seems the older one gets, the less appetite and the less taste buds work. We have finally decided after years of worry that we will supply her with stuff she will eat a little of, and if she doesn't eat it, so be it.
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no, but it sounds pretty good - sort of like Italian cream soda, American style :-)

carbonated bevereages sometimes stimulate or facilitate better swallowing too
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This may sound like a peculiar way to try to stimulate appetite but here it is and I'll give you the background in the next paragraph. Mix 2 ounces of regular (sugar) coke with two ounces of whole milk. Sip through a straw immediately while still fizzy. I'm not saying this WILL work but I'm saying it CAN and it MIGHT.

When I was 7 years old, my aunt and uncle went on a road trip do a forested area in Northern California. They came upon a tree felled buy a logging company. A nest of squirrels except for one baby the size of your thumb was killed. They rescued little Sandy, as they came to call him later, but had no idea what to feed him or if they could even save him. They happened upon somebody at a country store who told them this little formula (of course in smaller proportions) and they fed Sandy the coke milk in little bits with an eyedropper. He started lapping it up where previously he wouldn't even lap of water. Soon they added rice pablum to the coke milk and that's what Sandy ate during the time his mom would have weaned him up until he was old enough to eat squirrel food. He was a beautiful, bushy tailed grey squirrel and live to be nearly nine years old, way out living his wild counterparts.

My mom was an animal lover and we used this formula on the rescue of several pre-weaned puppies and kittens as well as a ground squirrel, a couple of chipmunks and even a baby blue jay. They all survived. I know it seems odd but when my mom at 94 went through some phases where her taste buds seems to be working against her (diff to see and understand because she had always been a cook and an eater), I would give her a little coke milk and it did seem to also stimulate her appetite. It couldn't have been the placebo effect since she wouldn't have remembered the past history even if I would have taken the time to try to explain it to her.

Vikki, vstephens, have you ever heard of this?
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Eddie - I wanted to respond to your curiosity about "if you don't eat, you don't get hungry". It's true. I am somewhat of an expert on fasting, being a nutritionist and having done it safely off and on for over 40 years. After about 3 days of intaking nothing but clear liquids, such as water or filtered juices, your body recognizes its not digesting anything and it goes into the elimination mode. That's why fasting is used for systemic cleansing. Not healthy too fast without supervision if you don't know what you're doing however. Too long without protein begin the process of muscle breakdown. You maybe remember Oprah losing tons of weight on Optifast, which was a protein sparing fast, providing protein, sparing muscle. THAT would not have been a CLEANSING fast, however.
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She may need to be on oxygen. I give mom ensure drinks. I freeze about 4 oz at a time in a little ice cream maker that is easy to use. Ensure also has a clear drink that is good. My mom likes it.
Like others say, talk to her doctor.
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My Mother does NOT have much appetite either. I try to make sure she has the things I know she likes... Ice cream bars, string cheese, nuts, and yogurt. When I make things I make sure she gets her share for example I made blueberry pancakes the other morning with fresh blueberries, she ate those well! I think you just have to keep trying. Ensure and Boost are good ideas also.
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When my Mom was diagnosed with "Failure to Thrive" after a severe UTI, I was informed that she also failed a "swallow test" multiple times. The hospital ICU refused to give her water or food. Mom knew. I asked the doctor if it was reversible, and he said no. I asked about Hospice, and he said Mom would be appropriate for Hospice care. The choice was: Stay in hospital where a feeding tube would be required, or, be released to Hospice. Mom was able to briefly but firmly preside over a family meeting to discuss this. Mom humorously "fired" all of us who wanted some chance for her and voted for feeding tube. She had volunteered for Hospice earlier in her life, and clearly knew what it meant. She firmly said "Hospice," and got so happy we were bringing her home. Once that agreement was signed, we could give Mom water and we were all so relieved, even though it was practically only swabbing her lips. We couldn't believe the ICU staff was so cold that they didn't tell us we could swab her lips even before Hospice. So if your Mom gets to a parched, white-lipped horribly dry state even in a hospital you should insist on lip swabbing (I was so angry no staff member offered this). Once home Mom's condition was such that sometimes she would love ice cream (she twinkled like a kid), soups, applesauce, and occasional bite of her beloved soft bread. But she just wasn't hungry. Her intestines were shut down, the Hospice nurse explained. Hospice explained that organs begin to shut down in their own pace. In the entire week we cared for her at home with Hospice guidance, she really didn't urinate much and never had a BM til death. But she was so happy and engaged when awake. Later I read all I could about "Failure to Thrive," which was actually the cause of death the doctor listed on her death certificate. Even typing the diagnosis here makes me cry and think nature is so cruel. But Hospice reassured me that she was not in pain. Shutting down takes a person on a journey we cannot know, and it is the most horrible grief to see them letting go while you are vibrant and conscious and full of energy to take care of them and get them "over this hump." It is an outrage and quite a path of learning. And one's love will just deepen. Acceptance has taken me four years to begin to ease into, and I'm still doubled over with guilt at times. My heart and prayers go out to you, and you should know you are doing all you can.
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Polly,

I heard somewhere that if you don't eat you don't get hungry. Still trying to figure that one out.

Anyway, since sweets don't seem to be an issue, try this: flan and tembleque. They are two types of sinful Puerto Rican custards that can become an addiction you won't want to give up. Google them. Although you might find them at the supermarket, you'll save $ by making them yourself.

Bon appetit!
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I'm not crazy about Megace, for ladies especially, - seriously, a little Periactin is more benign and maybe your doc would consider that worth a try.
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My mother lost her appetite as well and I had the doctor give me a prescription for Megace to make her hungry, now however she says she feels like she is bloated after eating and she eats a lot of sugary foods, cookies, ice cream etc.

I know there is a dying process when the body begins to shut down and now I am wondering if giving her the megace was a wise choice, because now her body seems to be having digestive problems, so maybe we interrupted something that was suppose to happen. This feels like a guessing game.
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Recipe for Ensure Shake
• One can of Ensure, any flavor (Ensure comes in vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, coffee, butter pecan, eggnog and black walnut)
• One-half cup of ice cream, flavor complementary to Ensure flavor
• 2 oz. Polycose (colorless, odorless, tasteless liquid with high calories and no nutritional value, found near baby formula)
Put in blender and add any of the following according to taste:
• Banana
• Fresh or frozen strawberries
• Any fresh fruit
• Chocolate syrup
• Honey
• Any flavoring
• Oreo cookies or any other cookies like chocolate chip, graham crackers, vanilla wafers
Blend well and enjoy! For weight gain have two shakes a day in addition to regular meals.
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May be pureeing food, sweetening a little and chilling it, like ice cream!
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If she likes ice cream, I would go with that and consider mixing in puréed fruit, protein powder, etc. to keep the nutrition up. Consult with dr and or nutritionist at your local hospital. They likely will meet with you for free and give you some ideas. If this is end of life...then just give her whatever she likes and don't worry about it. Offer small portions more often so that she can just have small bites throughout the day. This will be more easily tolerated in her aging digestive system as well. In the end when my dad had swallowing problems he liked only cold stiff like ice cream, cold puddings and ice pops, milkshakes. We added some ensure to some of these items and he just sipped thru the day, eventually refusing all nutrition. He also liked carbonated beverages like sipping coke or beer thru a straw. Guess it felt good going down...
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All good posts. More information about your Mom would be helpful; going with what you've told us, applesauce jello is a healthy food: prepare jello as directed but use applesauce instead of the cold water; my Mom loved raspberry and strawberry jello w/applesauce; that made her mouth feel cool and it was enough to give her sustenance when she was hungry. Sleeping is o.k., she is no doubt tired - you might want to have her blood CBC checked. Swallowing is another thing with ALZ. in the later stages. If she were my Mom I'd give her anything she would want to eat, calories or no calories counted. Giving her your love and attention is the bigger part of her care and water to drink. Milk and milk products tend to coat the throat and make swallowing a bit more difficult as it make more mucus. Also, by all means discuss her condition with her doctor ASAP. Caregiving is as much guessing for your loved one as it is common sense-in other words, your gut feeling-what would you like if you were in her situation...
Bless you and keep us posted. If she is getting near the end of her life, give her permission to take that last journey, as my husband did just a month ago. He kept talking about the gate being open, not because animals were getting out, the gate was just open and I finally realized he was talking about the gate being open to heaven; I just said, "Honey, if that gate is open and you see Jesus coming for you, just go with Him. I love you, and it's o.k. for you to go with Him now or when you're ready." He died the next morning. Love, blessings and prayers for all the caregivers out there. You are awesome!
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If your mom has Alzheimer's and is declining, then sleeping more and more is par for the course, so to speak. By the end of my mom's life (she had AD), she was sleeping most of the time.
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If the doc does recommend pureed foods, as others have suggested, a quick, easy, and healthful way to prepare them is to steam stovetop or in the microwave and then just puree. I can't imagine the taste of baby food can compare to fresh. And you can combine as she likes--apples with carrots, etc.
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Quick note - Ferris1 advice is obviously well-intentioned and not bad at all, just with one exception, that the gag reflex, though formerly thought and probably still taught to be, is not actually all that directly connected or important to swallowing. It can be hyperactive and be an inhibiting factor; some ot the cranial nerves that it is based on are also involved in swallowing, but there are lots of people who swallow fine without one and badly with a normal one, so it is not part of a dysphagia (swallowing) assessment anymore. I kind of like stevensmom's answer too. I think good ice cream, frozen yogurt, shakes and smoothies at whatever fat content is appropriate for the person's needs can be nutritionally enough to sustain life and pleasurable enough to sustain the spirit. You could check with a nutritionist to make sure, and maybe a little fiber and a few vitamins would be needed, but these foods have protein, minerals and carbs you need, and lots of people do fine on nothing but tube feeding formulas for years on end, and they are mostly milk or milk-like with a few extras too.
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Is your mother taking a newly prescribed medicine?? Drug interaction?? Sometimes as people age and the body's systems slow down the drugs prescribed can be too much/high of a doseage. My MIL would get "high" on half an aspirin and we had to watch how much the dose age of any drug she was prescribed and how it affected her and her behavior. Just as you would be cautious w/a baby or small child giving them medicine.
Need more info as to your mother's health and condition before giving more of an answer.
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Have you been able to talk with your mom about end of life care decisions? Is she able to tell you what type of care she wants when the time comes? You didn't say how alert your mom is and how able she is to make decisions. I guess I'm asking if she wants to eat but doesn't like the food or it's too hard to swallow it OR if she just doesn't want to eat at all.

Speaking only for myself, when I am ready to go, I do just want to eat ice cream and sleep peacefully and slip out of this life. On another thread, we've been talking about our own personal fears of having no one there for us when we are in this place in our journey. I personally do not want to eat anything I don't want to eat. Definitely talk with her doctor and maybe you could talk with someone who could give you support in this hard time. Peace and good wishes.
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Too much sleep is NOT good. The muscles begin to atrophy, she isn't taking in any calories and there is a reason she is sleeping too much. Is she sleeping because she is medicated? Depression will also cause too much sleeping. Tell her doctor, and if she is having trouble swallowing make sure she has a gag reflex. NO gag reflex will cause a problem with choking. Try puddings, and anything she can safely swallow. Talk to her doctor with your concerns.
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My husband is in a similar condition. In addition to smoothies and yogurt I find he will eat applesauce and many baby foods -- especially fruits, often with a little baby meat added to the spoon, or a little almond butter blended into the fruit. (I use almond butter from Trader Joe's because it blends with the fruit more easily than peanut butter and has a more neutral flavor.) Sometimes I mash small curd cottage cheese to make it smoother, and add finely-chopped fruit and a little drinkable yogurt.
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My husband is in a similar condition. In addition to smoothies and yogurt I find he will eat applesauce and many baby foods -- especially fruits, often with a little baby meat added to the spoon, or a little almond butter blended into the fruit. (I use almond butter from Trader Joe's because it blends with the fruit more easily than peanut butter and has a more neutral flavor.) Sometimes I mash small curd cottage cheese to make it smoother, and add finely-chopped fruit and a little drinkable yogurt.
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Thank you so much for this question! I am having similar problems with my dad vis-a-vis excessive sleeping; how much is too much, etc. It worries me as it does you.
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Puree her foods and use Thick-it.
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I'd be interested in knowing more about your mom's condition. How old is she? Is she still interested in living?
I do not want to be morose, but some people who are getting more frail start shutting down. You say she sleeps most of the time. Does she find eating pleasurable? Sometimes the body. She might be eating a little to please you, but is not interested in food herself. Sometimes the body is not able to easily digest food.
I am NOT trying to persuade you to stop trying to feed your Mom, but you might want to consider this option.
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As activity lessens, so does appetite. As some point food is totally refused, and inserting a feeding tube doesn't help, because digestive systems are shutting down. Time becomes very short, and Hospice is a huge help for everyone involved.
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