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Doesn't get up to eat breakfast, then just wants to eat snacks all day. We provide her with foods that would be good choices, which she eats very little of. We relocated the snack foods into the garage refrigerator (then caught her looking for the snack food in there). We have now moved it downstairs. We wonder what we should do when she goes to assisted living, and could have whatever she wants in her apartment? She has not been diagnosed with dementia, however, we are wondering if this might be part of the problem.

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Have a calm conversation with her about what she likes to eat, and what the health impact might be. Tell her you want her to live with you for a long, long time. Maybe even bring it up with her and the doctor. Then let it go, because she is a grown woman. If it turns out that she has dementia, that will not improve her diet.

Does she eat dinner with you, and eat a balanced meal then? Lots of people snack when they are alone, but will eat "real food" when eating with others. Maybe on the weekends, you can provide her with a real lunch and dinner, and then she'll remember how tasty vegetable soup is.

Is this the way she ate with her former family? They sound like the kind to establish bad habits.
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You wondered if this could be a symptom of dementia. Does she have other behaviors that might point to dementia?
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A 75-year-old adult who doesn't have dementia or cognitive problems should make her own decisions about what to eat. You are doing the right thing by making healthy choices available and easy. Definitely don't turn this into a contest of wills!
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Kind of complicated. She is 75 years old. She had been living in her home with my brother in law and sister in law. They (BIL and SIL basically ran her out of money and into debt). So, we are now having to sell her house. Two years ago, while they were all living together, she somehow fell out her bed and broke her neck. She was in a nursing home while she was rehabilitating. She is able to walk and move (albeit a bit stiffly). But, we don't know if she just got used to everyone taking care of her, so now she doesn't do it for herself...or she can't?
My husband and I both work, so, I put baggies of fruit and veggies cut up for her in the refrigerator. Since, she has asked for cookies, I put some in a snack baggy and some chips for the day. I have found if we leave the whole package available, she will eat almost the whole package in a day. We have told her there is food available and made suggestions as to what she might like, but she immediately goes for the sweets and excludes all other choices. She seems to choose what is easy and readily available (spoonfuls of peanut butter etc.). She is not diabetic..yet. She will come out of her room at 12:45 p.m. and immediately ask if we have any ice cream...not having eaten anything for breakfast or lunch. So, how do know if this is where we say... "you're 75 years old and can make your own food choices", or we "control" what she has access to since she is not even close to fueling her body in any sort of good way?
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Labmar, my husband works nights so when he gets up he calls his first meal 'breakfast' even though it's 3pm or whatever. Could it be that your mother-in-law is stuck on the word 'breakfast' since she knows it's the most important meal of the day? If when she gets up finally, why not make her bacon and eggs and toast or whatever you had for breakfast, and see if it IS the actual idea that she missed out on 'breakfast'. I'd start calling it breakfast to her too.
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If she doesn't have dementia, she should be allowed all decisions about what she eats, drinks, and wears. She sounds old school, likes food made with butter, sugar, and bacon. Taking care of her health is more than suppling a super healthy diet. At her age what else does she have to enjoy, if not her food. It is easy to treat the very old as infants, but it destroys their spirit. Let her come to her own decision that healthy food tastes better, and makes you feel better.
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How old is MIL? Why is she living with you -- what are her impairments? Do you feel that she has some symptoms of dementia? Does she have diabetes?

Eating small amounts throughout the day (grazing) is not in itself a bad practice, if the food is mostly wholesome and healthy. It becomes a concern if it consists mostly of cookies, lunch meat, chips, donuts, etc. If MIL is eating hard-cooked eggs, apples, carrot and celery sticks, sliced turkey, yogurt, cheese cubes, and other foods that would make up a meal if eaten together, that really isn't a problem.

How long has she been living with you? What were her eating habits before then?
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