My mother recently turned 64 years old. She started showing signs of forgetfulness 7-8 years ago.

Diagnosed with early onset Alzheimer's disease in 2013.

She is still mobile - but needs guidance and assistance - especially difficult with stairs.

She is incontinent at night, and partially incontinent during the day. Needs to be taken to toilet frequently to see if she needs to go.

Until recently she could still eat at least half a meal on her own before needing to be fed the rest.

During the last two months her eating had deteriorated rapidly. She needs to be fed everything, and only handles pureed food.

The last two days she has been refusing to eat from a spoon. We needed to liquify everything and give it via a mug.

I am very scared of what we will do when she refuses to drink... What can we try? Any tips on how to get liquids and food in. This has been such a rapid deterioration over a very short time...

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Dear Snippie,
How sad that your mom developed dementia SO young. I'm sorry for all of you.
In re-reading this, I'm all over the place with this topic but that's how it came in my brain!
My mom recently started coughing after drinking.
Many times, in the later stages of this rotten disease, they have trouble swallowing "thin" liquids, e.g. water, apple juice, etc., anything that "pours" easily. My mom is in the end of stage 6 and now requires "thickening" any liquid she drinks. You can buy a product called Thick-It. Add a little, to barely make any thickness or a lot, to make the liquid like the consistency of applesauce. It takes a few tries to get the consistency where you want it. She finds it much easier to swallow now and doesn't cough afterwards. I don't know if this is a factor for your mom but you could try it to thicken liquids.

If you're only able to get in small sips, offer high calorie foods and drinks like Ensure.
Try a "sippy cup" WITHOUT the straw. Sometimes they forget what to do with the straw! My mom did. Put the spout of the cup touching her inner lips, if possible. Make sure she's sitting upright to prevent aspiration (fluid getting in her lungs) and have her sit up for 1/2 hr. after feeding.

This stage seems to come out of nowhere. Just when you think you've got things under control.
In the end, there is no way to feed a person who doesn't want to eat. This is so hard to watch. The body, in many cases, is slowing down in preparation to pass. Food is not moved along the gastrointestinal tract, so just sits in the stomach, resulting in discomfort.

In the hopes that this is NOT the case, could your mother be ill? UTI? Sometimes people don't want to eat when they are sick. Has she had her temperature checked? Is it possible to get her to the doctor for a checkup?

If she's not sick, then I agree with the other posters, have your doctor refer you to a palliative care/hospice company. (Please read all the info first.) Get referrals from friends, neighbors, family and Internet scores to pick the best one for your mom.
God bless you all through the journey.
Helpful Answer (1)

The swallowing function can get impaired in dementia. The exact nature of the impairment can be determined by a swallow test and from that advice about what would make the swallowing easier. However, she may not be able to follow the advice.

Having a hospice evaluation at this point makes sense.
Helpful Answer (1)

I think an inquiry into Hospice is an excellent idea. Have you read much bout how the body as it shuts down, it may not be able to handle food and beverage? Reading a lot about that was surprising to me. It gave me a new perceptive, so, I have made plans for how we will handle it when  it comes along for my LO. I know this must be so concerning though, with your mom. She is in your that right?
Helpful Answer (2)

I'm sorry about your mom's rapid deterioration. This must be very difficult on your family.

Have you contacted hospice? Now would be the time.

As far as food goes don't try to force feed your mom. If you'd like to hold up a spoon of pureed food in front of her and encourage her to eat that's OK but force feeding can lead to vomiting and your mom not taking any kind of food in whatsoever. So try once and if she doesn't want it let it be. Don't scold her.

Are you using straws to get fluids into her? Try a cup with a lid and a slot for a straw and encourage her to take a few sips. Offer fluid frequently. Juices, water, soda.....whatever she has enjoyed in the past.

Once hospice gets involved they will provide sponge sticks. It's just like it sounds. A sponge at the end of a stick. You swirl the sponge around in some nice cool water and press it between your mom's lips. This isn't enough to sustain her but it prevents a dry mouth which your mom may not be able to communicate. It's soothing. You may be able to buy them at a drugstore. When I've used them I make sure to squeeze the sponge in between the lips, get it on the tongue, then refresh the sponge with more water and twist it around the lips.

Come back and let us know how you're doing.
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