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Mom is moving to an AL place where meals are served in a dining room 3 times a day. But I worry she may forget to go eat. She does not have dementia officially but since her stroke has been forgetful and time is fuzzy for her now.

I'm assuming mealtime will be so fun that she will not forget. She will also have snacks in her apartment. Still, is it even possible for someone to become sick from forgetting to eat?

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I should clarify that Mom does not have Alzheimers. I think I will mention it to the staff, too.
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Oh Yes! they can also forget to bath, change their clothes from day to day and many other daily routine issues. My MIL forgets to brush teeth, flush, wash hands and comb hair on a daily basis. If I remind her she is like "Oh yes I forgot" then goes and does it. In an AL setting however there still should be some staff there. When My FIL was in AL the usually do have staff that make sure still that everyone still eats. If you mention your concerns to the facility they will come at all meals to make sure she heads down to eat.
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Good for you! Good for you for facing and naming the question and asking for ideas, and then trying them out - we can bring small changes, and by paying attention rather than assuming that the old patterns are sufficient, we can bring new options that are often the ones that sustain new progress! Good work!
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Thank you for all this helpful information. Mom told me later that she got hungry and went downstairs by herself to the snack bar by the elevators and got an apple. I was thrilled.

It has been a few days since that first day and I've been to the place and it is amazing. She may gain weight, now, since she loves the food and they also have assigned an ambassador to her (not sure for how long) to get her for meals and show her around. Plus, now, her apartment has been stocked with the snacks she had in her room at our house.
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Yes, not eating can make the elderly sick. A friend who works in an upscale nursing home once told me that poor nutrition is a major cause leading to admission in well over half their patients.
That said, it is unlikely that your mom will miss meals at assisted living where three meals a day are served. At the ALF where my 92-year-old friend resides, meals are announced by way of loud speakers in the residents' rooms and the halls. Poor nutrition that led to digestive issues was a driving factor that put my friend in the ALF. Now -- heaven help me if I should happen to be standing by the door to her room when meals are announced! She'll stop talking mid-sentence, stand up, and practically "mow me down" as she hurries to the dining room as fast as she can move with her walker! In the rare instances when she dawdles, they check up on her in a short time.
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Just a few more bits of info to share:
The senses of taste and smell are the first to go, so food is far less enjoyable. I've also heard that it is the reason that some elderly put way too much salt on their food -- simply so they can taste it!
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My step-father died at age 76 from a variety of ailments. He'd been a "meat and potatoes" guy until about age 70, but then he lost his taste for meat to the point that he'd say, "Meat! Blech!"
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Two of my friends periodically visit a couple (who are not relatives), now in their 80s, who moved to another state. My friends used to love the meals they were served -- a wide variety of well-prepared food in more-than-abundant quantity. Now, when my friends visit them very occasionally for a couple days, more than once the hosts have simply forgotten it is meal time. My friends cannot find enough to fix a meal in the house and have had to phone out for pizza for everyone. The elderly couple have plenty of money, so that isn't the reason "the cupboard is bare." My friends have begged them, more than once, to move to assisted living, but the answer is "no"!
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My mother doesn't get a headache when she doesn't eat and has no appetite. There are no cues to her that she should eat except to look at the clock. For awhile, she was forgetting to look at the clock, too, so she just wasn't eating.
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When my Dad was at home with his dementia, he seemed to forget about eating at regular meal times. Then, when he finally figured out he was actually hungry, he wanted something RIGHT NOW....and was very irritable. Since he had lost 30 lbs in a couple months, when we discovered this and discovered that Mom was not fixing him meals, I suggested stocking the freezer with ice cream and making a shelf in the fridge with easy to get to nourishing foods he would like, like slices of ham, and cheese and fruit, like grapes in a cup....things he could just grab when he suddenly felt hungry. Also got Mom to offer him high protein chocolate milkshakes because he loved anything chocolate. Left to his own devices, he would sit and eat half a jar of p-nut butter or half a gallon of ice cream while watching TV and think nothing of it....until it caused diarrhea the next day!!
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My mother's AL comes knocking when she doesn't appear at her usual space. Only if she is ill, does the facility allow her to stay in her room. If a family member takes her out of the facility, an AL employee stops by to make sure we have taken care of her meal, or "do we need them to bring a sandwich?". I appreciate the fact that she is cared for in such a way.
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Without reading all the answers, just let me say that I am not 65 yet, and any time I am by myself, I do forget to eat and I am no skinny minny either.... . one time I didn't eat for so long I got nauseous, and so I still avoided food until someone told me that if you don't eat for long enough your stomach tries to digest itself, and so I forced myself to eat some saltines and broth, and yes, I just needed to eat. I need food.... however, I wonder if someone with dementia might not recognize the symptoms of food deprivation..... headaches, etc...
On another note, when my Mom was in rehab for stroke it was noticed that senses become more acute, and anything that tastes odd, will taste ten times worse to that person. So they might not want to eat it.
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I have heard no one say the facility monitors their parents to see that they eat. My moms will call her to come to the dining room if her chair is empty, but I have to ask those around her whether she eats. They say yes, but she doesn't go twice a day frequently. She needs to gain weight but isn't. She says she doesn't get hungry. I am 69 and I forget to eat if I'm busy. Spent today at the local hospital. Ate a dry breakfast bar at 3 pm with water. Finally got good food when I got home after 4. So I understand and try to remind her.
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It is up to the facilities employees to see that your parent gets to meals or is served them in his/her room. Of course, many seniors in these places don't eat much, but that is closely monitored, also. And because your parent is forgetting many other things as the disease and age progress, he or she will forget to eat. My father as a caregiver didn't watch much what my mother had to eat or forgot to eat all day, with the result that she lost almost 40 lbs. in 4 months.
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My mom just lost her appetite. No Alzheimer's or dementia, I think it was her body shutting down. I think the last thing she ate was an egg custard my daughter made for her, like she remembered from her childhood. It was hard to watch her lose so much weight, but the hospice people said don't force her, so we didn't. She died peacefully and quietly in her own bed at home, as she wanted, 5 years ago. We were lucky, she could afford in-home care.
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Yes they can....with alzhimers they forget and eventually are put on a feeding tube just ensure they get nutrition.
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If you didn't eat for some time, you would probably get a headache. Of course, one can become ill from not eating and yes patients who are "fuzzy" do not get signals from their brains activating the appetite. My husband, who has dementia to a lesser degree, does "forget" to eat if I am not here (while I go shopping, errands). So talk with staff about knocking on your mom's door and "reminding" her to go eat in the dining room. Caution: with snacks in her room she made snack all day and not be hungry to eat her prepared meals. Limit those snacks!
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I'm surprised no one mentioned the reason I think is major - part of Alzheimers is forgetting, and that includes forgetting paths around one's surroundings, and forgetting how to find things and imagine how to fix them. So when they are living at home, the best thing to do is set up regular meals for them, not expect them to go fix one. Many lose the ability to think ahead, and many choose the exact same meal each time - the best solution as I see it with my experience, is not a verbal one of reminders, but setting up a placemat with a mug of tea or whatever, with a light sandwich or simple lunch. When they come to the table at your suggestion, they see the setup and follow cues to complete the activity of eating. I think they get hungry, but because the task of even navigating between one room and another, as well as remembering what and how to fix anything, they will skip the meal, rather than plan to get up and go find it.
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My 88 year old mom forgets to eat often. Left to her own devices she will just eat pork rinds and past their expiration date donuts that they give out at the senior center. On the rare occasions that she goes for a few days of respite care at the AL nearby, they round them up at meal times to avoid this problem.
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I don't know if all AL facilities watch whether a person eats or if some just hand out the food. I will tell you that, when my grandma was in the hospital, if my Mom and her siblings weren't there at mealtime, that grandma didn't recognize that she should eat the food in front of her and, when the meal was done, the nurse would just come and take the uneaten food away. I don't know if the ALs would do the same, but you can't expect a person will eat even if the tray is right in front of them. If the person has lost interest in eating or just doesn't remember to eat, someone has to make sure they eat.
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My mom has no appetite, eats hardly anything and drinks even less. You don't need to worry about your mother in assisted living. They do monitor the residents and will go to her room and bring her to meals. Also, they have assigned seating so she will eventually view meals as a social event. Seniors eat more in the company of others than they will if living alone.
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Most AL's have assigned seating, so they can tell who is missing from the table. They will then check on them and remind them it is mealtime.
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I am a caregiver and have experience with similar issues. I have done online search for reasons why an elder does not eat. Here are a few relevant reasons to this question. Elders are not as active so their hunger diminishes with age, food does not taste like it used to, food served in rest homes tends to be bland, dementia- simply forgetting to eat, forgetfulness of where things are in their kitchen so why bother cooking also forgetting that they have something cooking in the pan they get side-tracked or doze off. There are also possibilities of an underlying illness like acid reflux or other digestive issues. (my mom had this)
Lack of independence they usually don';t drive (doesn't apply to this ?) but is an important factor.
Oh, eating a meal with friends in a social atmosphere and would be all the more reason for her.(him) to enjoy eating a meal. I help 2 ladies who love that kind of thing.
The best way to figure out why an elder is loosing weight or not eating is to spend meal time with them and even cooking for them with the aroma in the air that usually get's the stomach in the mood for food.
Hope this is helpful.
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Yes, it is possible for them to forget to eat. My parents are living at home and often skip meals by accident - the other night I came to see them at 9:00PM and they were just remembering they should eat some dinner (probably just because I showed up with food from the grocery store - they had some already but just hadn't thought of eating it.) As for AL, I just met with some folks at an AL yesterday that we're considering for our parents. The way they run their meals, the management team (who live on site) personally serve coffee at every table, so they get to chat with everyone and make eye contact. It's one of the ways they make sure everyone is coming to meals. They serve meals three times a day, so if someone doesn't come to a meal they check on them and will even bring them a meal on a tray if they're ill. I think it must vary widely depending on the facility, but for some of them at least it seems like it wouldn't be possible for your parent to just forget to eat and no one notices.
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My dad both forget to eat and is not interested in food any longer. He wont eat even when we ask him to. We go to great lengths to explain that he ight get sick if he doesn't, but its hard, he just refuses. We basically have to bribe him.
He has dementia and I believe its common to not want to eat. He keeps saying he is not hungry. He does however eat biscuits and yoghurt and loves bananas. Very tiring though.
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Yes I think your right, my dad is 84 and very forgetful about eating. The funny thing is he remembers that he didn't eat but makes no attempt to get something to eat. I think after the stroke something happened that shut off his desire for food or what ever it is that tells him it's time to eat. I think in your mom is in e better situation where other people will be attending the meal, she will make friends who will ask her, "Are you coming to dinner ?" My dad is alone with just me, so I ask him are you hungary ? But dinner is the one meal we sit together and have daily.
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