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Is there anything I can give my mom to help increase her appetite ?

My grandma-in-law would do the “I’m not hungry” thing often. She had dementia (and a hernia, which was part of the problem) and macular degeneration. In hindsight, we think the bad eyesight contributed too. She couldn’t make out what was in front of her and she’d smile, wave at the plate and say “Oh, take it away!”. She was trying to mask how badly it had gotten. As her dementia worsened she barely ate anything. NH had to rely on Ensure to keep her going.

My own grandma didn’t have dementia but was so stubborn and angry that she’d use not eating as a means of control and expressing anger. If we put a plate of food in front of her, she’d turn her head and make a face like a 5-year-old who didn’t want vegetables. She broke her hip and was in a very nice rehab place for a few months. She lost about 25 pounds and insisted that “it’s just fluid”. Refused Ensure, appetite meds didn’t help. She’d eat a piece of lettuce and would just do the tiniest nibbles... it was so aggravating. We had to put the fear of God into her and told her if she didn’t eat, she was going to die. She ate more after that, but still not all that much.
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Reply to LoopyLoo
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I will agree with giving her anything she will eat. I did that with Luz, my wife.
It helped a little. Not enough in her case but it did a little. Then at the end nothing seemed to work. Only water taken on a sponge oral scrubber to moisten her mouth.
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Reply to OldSailor
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That's the death spiral that many elderly get into. They stop eating which means they have less energy which makes it even less likely that they will eat. That's how grandpa died. He starved himself to death.

The same thing happened with my mom. She went from 120 to 80lbs. The good news is with mom I pulled her out of it. The key with her was ice cream. She refused to eat anything but she would eat ice cream. Not willingly but if I nagged her she would. Nutritional drinks also became her sole source of fluid intake. Combine the two and a year later she was back over 100 pounds. Which is an incredible accomplishment for the elderly. Now she eats pretty much normally again. She still asks for ice cream but if I give her other food, she'll eat it no nagging needed.

In her situation, it's all about the calories. Get her to eat anything you can get her to eat. There's no such thing as junk food. It's all about the calories. I know there are healthy diet fanatics that will insist they eat a "healthy diet" all the way to the grave. They are wrong. One of my brothers was like that. We would argue about it. Until a nurse said all her mom would eat was peanut butter and nutrition drinks. She even said, "It's all about the calories." Brother shut up about it after that.
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Reply to needtowashhair
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Yes, the A.L. Dr did give my mother a med to increase her appetite, but I don't know what it's called. Your mom's Dr will likely know what pill could help.
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Reply to Tiger55
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MayK, my mom lost her appetite while she was still reasonably healthy, I used to get annoyed that I would make a good meal and she would barely eat half of it. What I didn't know then was that this would eventually lead to her becoming weaker and frailer and falling, which was the start of her downward spiral. At this point I wouldn't worry about balanced meals but do what you can to tempt her - offer easy to eat favourites, have snacks available often and if she is still not getting enough try adding some of the supplements like boost or ensure.
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Reply to cwillie
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CaregiverMayK Mar 22, 2019
Thank you!
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