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My Mother has lived with my husband and I for 35 years. She is advanced Alzheimers and is progressively getting worse.. She can no longer tell time. She is obsessed with eating. Meals only, refuses snacks or small meals. We have a schedule for meals. In the morning she likes her breakfast between 8 & 8:30. We have lunch at 12 and supper at 5. When she finishes supper, she goes to bed. Over the past 6 months she has lost all perspective of what time it is and when she last ate. For instance, lately she has finished breakfast (2 bowls of cereal, coffe and 4 cookies) around 8:45 am. Around 9:15, she's wanting another meal. When asked, she says she's not hungry, but "Isn't it time to eat?" She will repeat this several times until about 11:30, when I tell her to sit at the table while we fix lunch. She likes to eat a big lunch (soup, sandwich, fruit cup, cake, orange drink and coffee). Within an hour of finishing lunch, she's asking for supper. We have offered her snacks between meals, but she refuses. Wants full meals. Mother was a bigtime junk food (chocolate, potato chips, corn curls, etc) eater up until about a year ago, when she stopped all junk food. Her explanation...she doesn't want it. Mother has gotten argumentative and threatening on occasion when told it wasn't time to eat. Says things like, "I've missed 5 meals now" My husband had fixed her meals or snacks when she gets upset, but ends up throwing most of it away because she says she's full. Which she is because it's only been a short time since she ate. We don't anymore and nothing we have tried works. This is causing increased stress on us all.

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You are not alone. I searched for this very topic, my Mom's short term memory has frightfully shortened within the past few months. Withing 5 mins the same questions can be asked. Mom is not remembering eatting or taking her meds, gets very angry and acussing the Nurses of not giving them to her. Two days ago, I took her favorite meal, we ate laughed and talked over it. Thirty mins later she claimed to be straving and really raising a stink at the NH. Mom has scheduled meals and snacks AND I keep her drawers filled with snacks. I've taken home cooked meals for her to enjoy, she'll say "oh goodie! I'll eat that tonight" well I thought she had until I found the food in her dresser drawer a week later. We all do the redirecting technique...about every 5-10 mins. Talk about exhausting. I guess they can't tell if their full or not? I don't know what's next, I'm digging in but my toes are weary.
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sadly at later stages of AD folks forget to eat or do not have the strength... I would encourage you to do small frequent meals and healthy snacks.
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IsntEasy, I like your positive variation. I'd say "Not quite yet. I'll let you know." You'd say, "Yes, almost time. I'll let you know." I like your approach better. I'll have to remember that!
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Not too different from dealing with a toddler!
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My mil has also lost all sense of time. I find that visual clues work well with her. Maybe you could try leaving her previous meal plate there for her to see until the next meal?
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Many patients with this disease either eat alot or very littlejust tell her not yet
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I worked in an Alzheimer's unit, and I know from experience that is part of the disease not remembering if they have eaten or not. They need a lot of fluids due to getting dehydrated very easily. They are not doing this purposely, I know its very frustrating for the care givers just try and put yourself in their shoes. Try fresh fruit and finger foods they love that.....another good idea is ask them about their past ...you would be surprise how many stories they could tell you... put on some music from their past and dance they love that too. Well, I wish you the best.
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Great ideas here, really like the routine you have going Kimbee...
When S becomes insistent about some things, I tell 'loving lies', to redirect him... 'oh thanks for reminding me, I'll get that done in a few minutes....can you help me put the laundry in the dryer?" and sometimes it is simply repition.... but I always try to involve him in my answer, i.e..... what would I do without you reminding me, or you are right, I'll get that going here in just a minute, Ok, and it helps, his is not about eating, but things like when is he going home, of course he is home, so I tell him things like I am waiting for a phone call from his daughter, she had some errands to run, but I'll let you know as soon as she calls, ect... like I said, I call them 'loving lies', how can it be wrong if you are making someone with Alz less anxious, less demanding, less bored....
And Cathyb clearly stated her mom refuses snacks, so like was said, it's not about the food, it could be about boredom, feeling anxious...it's something she REMEMBERS so it is important to her.
We didn't know we also signed on for being the entertainment with our elders, but it gives us a chance to use our brains for something besides thinking about our next nap.....or our missed nap would be more like it... so just use your imagination... and prayers for you and mom....
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Mine did that for a while! She threatened to hurt me for not feeding her.... she was just fed! I find that re-direction works the best. When you find the conversation going in that wrong direction, change the subject. Cause a distraction. Do something that will cause a shift in the thought process..... Drop something on the floor, leave the room and re-enter... bring up some juicy memory from the past.... ask questions. The only thing that seems to work with Dementia when they get a fixed idea in their head is to re-direct their thoughts elsewhere. This became a great tool I used all the time in the nursing home. Hope this helps!!
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I totally sympathize! Having the same problem here! Except that I drop everything and fix a meal, only to have her refuse to eat it. The thing that saves me is making a lot of food then reheating leftovers. Good thing about Alzheimers: Leftovers are not a problem! I was on the phone long distance with my daughter the other evening, the one thing that keeps me sane, and as she lives in a far different time zone around our dinner time is the only time she can talk, and I talk to her less than weekly. Mom stomped her foot and called me a terrible caregiver because I was on the phone instead of making her dinner. When she heard about that, my aunt said that my mom and I "must have a personality conflict." Rubbish. That's like someone telling a parent of a 3-year-old throwing a tantrum that they would not cry if you were a better parent. I've decided that the "meal" she wants is really "attention", and some sort of anchor (mine has also lost track of time).
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Is her memory at the point where you could answer "Yes, it is time to eat, I'm going get it ready in just a minute" and then go on about your business until she next asks?
I've noticed that an affirmative response works better than a negative one, even when it's a 'little white lie'. Some people, when their memory is so far gone, are agitated and frustrated when attempts are made to re-orient them. Your mom needs to get a response that will make her happy for the moment ('in the moment' is all she has). You need a way to preserve your own sanity. I'd just keep trying different 'yes' responses until I hit one that accomplishes both goals.
Good luck.
p.s. I'm surprised at the amount of food your mom eats at age 98. Remarkable.
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Have you tried a number line? Make a time line with large numbers with a moveable arrow. When she asks about a meal, take her to the time line so she can see what time it is. Add pictures of things she can do throughout the day so she knows when it's time to watch her favorite show, listen to music, fold towels (maybe even the same towels she folded yesterday), etc. Maybe giving her more visual clues of ideas she could do instead of eating.
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Let her graze. With Alzheimer's, rules go out the window. It is not a kind nor friendly disease. When she asks for a meal, offer a bit of food and then later when she asks, offer more. I would been thrilled out of my mind if my grandmother had wanted to eat like this with her Alzheimer's!! With small meals and snacks, she would not get full and then could eat more a short time later. I am delighted too that she has dumped the junk food-good for her!
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Oops, meant Paula, sorry
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Cathy we were writing at the same time. Great points too.
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Jeanne, luv your answer! Is something on the schedule for between meals? If she's having trouble telling time, maybe she is attempting to orient herself? Or is bored? I write things in our schedule between meals that r flexible: music, activity, rest, exercise etc. Then I can present what will likely work best at the time (activity might be bird watching, helping to fill hummer feeder, simple puzzle or short or funny story, trip to mailbox etc.). Even though declining, could she be a little bored? Any recent changes to between meal routines? My mom is having difficulty w telling time too-we open blinds a bit after she's asleep to have light enter room in am. We got the pricey clock w day, date& time-added the year on a card & taped it on. Have decoratve blocks (target) w the current season near clock. I do our schedule on big index cards w check blocks for each thing-she looks at them and says stuff like "I had breakfast, took my am med's, it must be time for activity?" I also highlight any holiday or special days with simple decorations- 4th w/ big red white blue bow on inside of door, little flag in plant on k table. Some med's may make our LO's feel hungry too?
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cathyb, I guess it's obvious that this is about her Alzheimers rather than about food —she's eating remarkably well for someone her age. I think the only thing you can do is keep putting her off until your scheduled mealtimes, even if it means dealing with her reaction. Is it possible to answer her requests once by telling her the next meal will be in a certain number of hours, and then leave the room or change the subject, as jeannegibbs suggested? Knowing you'll have to deal with it again and again—and again.

The reason I suggest that is because my mother, who doesn't have Alzheimers, can't see me without needing to either ask me for something, or becoming angry with me. They seem to be the only truly spontaneous behaviors she has left, so those are the ones she goes to. Any kind of natural daily conversation is becoming increasingly rare, and occurs only once her immediate demands are met. I commend you and your husband for trying to appease your mother, but wonder if it wouldn't make her uncomfortable in the long run to be having too many snacks. Aside from the fact that it doesn't help with the underlying problem.

I think the reality is that there's no real way to solve this, but perhaps a consistent response might help. Even if it doesn't satisfy your mother, at least you'll have a fixed answer in place. Which probably beats trying to fix full meals or snacks every hour of the day. :)
I wish you well—it's a tough job with no easy solutions.
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Wow, what an unpleasant development. Since you've had Mother with you for 35 years, I'm sure you are the expert on what works with her. I'm sorry that Alzehiemer's is throwing a curve that the old techniques don't cover.

What if she frequently asked about the tme for something else? If she asked over and over "Is it time for that quiz show that I like on tv?" or "Is it time for the mail to come now?" Wouldn't you just answer, over and over as appropriate, "No, it's not time yet, Mom. I'll let you know when it is time. Now it is time to fold the laundry. Can you help me?" The repetition is very annoying for you, I'm sure, but no real harm done, right?

When she asks, "Is it time for lunch now?" what happens if you answer, "Not quite yet, Mom. I'll tell you when it is."
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