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Reply with quote  #16 

Hi Adam,

I sure know what you are going through.  It's the biggest worry for us as caregivers.  My mom passed away April 11th at 87 yrs.  I cared for her in my home for 3 yrs.  I used to fix wonderful meals, and she would hardly eat anything.  I know I kept her alive the last year of her life, I spoon fed her at every meal.  She hated eating meats and would usually spit them out.  For instance, at breakfast she loved her cereal with milk and banana cut up in it.  As she got worse with her eating, I just put a whole vanilla nutritional drink, cereal, and banana with a little peanut butter mixed in and put it all in my Magic Bullet and it came out like a milk shake with just a few pieces of banana and she would take this with no problem.  I had to puree meat and spaghetti together and she would eat that.  It was incredible to watch mom go from a "big" eater to wanting nothing at all.

I had a lot of patience with my mom and really babied her to get her to eat.  Even with that, it was inevitable that she would lose weight.  It scared me at first, but I finally accepted it as part of the whole process with her late stage dementia. 

Adam, it sounds like you are doing all of the right things.  I'm so sorry about your struggling with this.  Just do the best you can and try not to get too frustrated.  I really sweet talked and babied my mom but I had all of the time in the world to do this ... not everyone has that time but she was in my home and it was just part of my caregiving responsibilities.  My mom's problem was her dementia and not remembering how to eat properly.

Good luck and God bless you for the great care.

Reply with quote  #17 
Originally Posted by Mary E.
My mother (who is 90) was going through a downward spiral weight-wise last winter.  She would say that she had no appetite and all of her skirts were literally falling down. She was having me take in all of her waistbands.   All of the foods she had previously enjoyed, suddenly didn't appeal to her at all.  Her doctor was concerned and recommended Ensure, the drink similar to Boost and the one Rosie uses for her father.  He actually prescibed that she drink three a day.  She wanted to get better so she began using it and started to feel better - and gradually  got some of her appetite back and began to have small meals again.   I think that at a certain age - whether from depression, boredom, pain, or just the realization that one is elderly (and hating it as my mother does) - that they begin to lose their appetite.  If they actually WANT to get better, they'll try anything as my mother did - and they'll break the pattern and begin to get strong again. 

I was searching for a thread about getting them to eat.  My FIL used to be  muscular and stocky.  He is now 125 lbs and under 5'6". He looks like half the man he used to be, very gaunt.  He drinks two Ensures a day, but I can tell he doesnt want them. He's been  on Prozac for 5 months but Im not sure what its doing for him.   He eats fairly small portions and it takes him over 1 hour to eat a small plate of food.  His hands shake a bit. He is always dehydrated because he doesnt drink enough.  He had a follow up DR visit last week and the Dr prescribed a liquid form "appetite stimulant".  The Dr said he just need to get his appetite back. . FIL eats his meals ( slowly, but he finishes them), yet he continues to lose weight.  He weighed 138 in he's 125.  He eats better since he moved in with us, but I  still see the constant weight loss.  With the anti-depressent, the Ensures and the RX to stimulate his appetite, I still dont see a weight gain.  You can only do so much. 
Reply with quote  #18 
Amy, forgive me that I can't recall if your father is suffering from dementia or not. (I'm not too sharp of late.)
If he is, I've read that it isn't unusual for weight loss to occur as the disease progresses.  I was on Zoloft for 2 months and lost weight.  I got off of it because of side effects. 
My own Mom weighed 99 when we took an active part in her meals. (She was always very thin, but she just kept losing weight because she couldn't care for her own nutrition.)
She now weighs 119.  I 100% know that HER situation is affected by eating WITH someone.  Even if the person just sits and has a coke or glass of water, she will eat, even when she swears she isn't hungry. This may not be your case, but for anyone doing a search, I have some simple suggestions.
1. Sit with them and if it's a day when they are having trouble, go ahead and feed them.
2. Give them a spoon, it makes some foods easier to manipulate.
3. If they are having a frozen entre', put it on a plate. It just looks more appetizing to them.
4. Grapes are something that, if they can still chew, gives them that sweetness that they crave.
5. Mom will eat pie and ice cream any day, any time. 
6. DON'T ask if they are hungry.  Tell them it's time to eat and say,"Won't you please join me? I hate to eat alone."  That strikes some social cord with my Mom.
7. From what I've read and experienced with her, she wants more intensity of flavor-a little more sour, salty, spicy or sweet.
When Mom's survival skills were intact, she would buy Ensure.
She tried to gain weight because even though WE didn't realize, she did! Needless to say, Ensure is the LAST thing she wants to see.
Reply with quote  #19 
One last thing her Doc said,  give her the vitamins she needs and focus on calories.  My Mom could eat mashed potatoes (followed by pie and ice cream) day and night.  AND she has for a few days in a row.  That's OK!
Plus, get the teeth checked.  If there is a dental problem heat and cold even if it's soft can cause a LOT of pain.  It becomes like a behavior modification.  Eating equals pain, so I just won't eat!
I guess that was 2 last things!
not so new 1
Reply with quote  #20 
lifeisgood,  you said and fed a mouthful.  For my LO also, it means so much to eat a meal off a real plate and to have some one sit down and share the meal....  For Mom,  I try to put everything on her plate in it's whole form, then cut it up or even take it back to the kitchen to chop or puree.  A plate of chopped mess covered with some sort of sauce to stare at,  is not appetizing.  

The big issue though is company during a meal, some conversation.   At least One Meal a day and a snack, sit with them and eat something with them.   It doesn't cure everything, nothing can, but they really appreciate it.  It won't make the difference between life and death, but it can make the difference between love and loneliness
Reply with quote  #21 
An update on my dads eating  - he is happily eating more and more now. His blood count is up,his skin is a good colour. He has his cereal of choice, with chopped banana, for breakfast; a cup of Sustagen(similar to Boost I think)and a piece of cake or toast and jam for morning tea;his main meal at lunchtime,usually a mixture of protein and veg,sometimes an egg added, and tinned fruit with icecream or yoghurt for dessert.
Any time between 3-4pm he has his "evening meal" which is soup.This fills him up and warms him.
He has not suffered and "tummy trouble" since I started his new regime and is happy to eat, and enjoys all the food. I do give him a fair bit of input as to what he has, and sometimes he will say to me that we need more of this or that.
I kind of shamed him into eating more initially, as I said what would people think, that I wasn't caring for him properly - well, he cares what people think.
Reply with quote  #22 
rosie, isn't it amazing how some of our folks never want to "waste", or "hurt feelings", and try to do the things that they think make US happy. I've started making comparisons to my Grandmother and Grandfather-Mom's parents.  When they needed help, she was there day in day out.  So now, if I say, "Remember when Grandma needed this, or Grandpa needed to do that..."  It strikes a cord and she is so agreeable.  I didn't have a single problem when I bought the pull-ups.  She put them on and has been wearing them since.  Now, a diaper-I don't know what will happen then.
not so new 1-I just wish I could get the caregivers to understand the importance of companionship while eating.  I think with them, it's a 50-50 shot if they do it.  I guess what I mean is, they don't do it consistently.  I'm worried about that first choking incident!  We are trying to keep ahead of it through food preparation.  For now, if someone just sits with her, she would eat and eat everything in front of her-including the table cloth-literally.  OH MY, that was "tasteless" wasn't it!  Have to have a little humor!
Reply with quote  #23 
I have tried to make every meal suitable to dads tastes and needs.Instead of buying one large packet of cereal(more economical)I buy the novelty packs which contain a dozen small packs with a variety of cereals.He gets to choose which one he wants for breakfast.Sure, it's more expensive, but he gets a kick out of it. He always adds half a banana.
I make different meals in batches and freeze them.He likes casseroles with chunky pieces of vegetable, potato,sweet potato,pumpkin - cooked fairly soft.Sometimes he gets a treat of a frozen lasagne or some macaroni cheese.I do try to vary it as much as possible.
I got several tins of different fruits and put them all together in a big bottle - he thinks it's marvellous, a big fruit salad that he can dig into and pull out any pieces he wants, then adds icecream or custard.
I try to make it a bit of an adventure or game for him.He loves his afternoon soup,I buy a selection of packet ones, then every day I put his soup bowl on the table with a packet in it, and he just has to add water.
I have made it into a sort of game I suppose, he knows there is always a selection available for whatever meal, and he has options, and having a microwave gives him some independence when he is able to heat up his meals himself without me hovering over him. He has totally forgotten his reluctance and has developed a new enthusiasm for his food.
Reply with quote  #24 
We set the timer...and feed my mom every 2 1/2 hrs....She starts with coffee at 7 am

Then, breakfast at 8 am (toast and fruit)
Snack at 10:30 am (fruit)
Lunch at 1 pm...with soup/crackers and half a sandwich
Snack at 3:30 pm (cup of ice cream) or cookies and jello
Dinner at 6:00 pm
Snack at 8:30 pm

This has brought her weight back from 105 (after illness) up to
116 now.

We count out her Cherry Pepsis (every morning into one spot in refrigerator)
5 of them to make sure she gets the same fluid intake each day.

Hope this helps.

2nd kathy
Reply with quote  #25 

hospice nurses tell me that the elderly will gravitate to sweet tasting things as they progress because they tend to lose all taste except sweet. I see that with dad..he'll pick at dinner and say he's full but if I mention ice cream......he gets all excited and 'well maybe some of that.' Milkshakes offer a good way to add supplements, fruit, etc. Fruit smoothies made with boost or ensure...glucerna for diabetics.

Reply with quote  #26 

Originally Posted by lifeisgood
Amy, forgive me that I can't recall if your father is suffering from dementia or not. (I'm not too sharp of late.)If he is, I've read that it isn't unusual for weight loss to occur as the disease progresses. 

Hi LifeisGood and 2nd Kathy,  FIL is suffering from dementia ( on Aricept) and the CNA sits with him for breakfast and lunch , then my dh and I eat dinner with him each evening. He's never alone. I will have to read more about dementia, but it makes sense that something has to go as his various ailments progress. All of a sudden, FIl has a "thing" for fruit smoothies. We make them with pineapple juice, fresh or canned fruit, ice and whey protein powder. He asks the CNA for a smoothie for breakfast and lunch. But she is instructed to feed him protein or more substantial stuff.   I think his liver disease is causing the shaky hands. So he cant shovel the food in fast like he did in the past.  DH cuts up his food, but he moves in verrrrry sloooooow motion at the same time his hands shake.


Posts: 1
Reply with quote  #27 
Even I face the same problem.
Dennis Zajac

Posts: 11
Reply with quote  #28 
Hello DennisZajac. Sorry that no one has welcomed you. You sort of got buried in a rather old post. I hope you will start a thread and let your new friends get to know what is going on for you.  
Reply with quote  #29 
Blessings Adam  one of the best ways to get the elderly to do anything is to do it with them .So if you are eating its the best time to offer or feed them . so meal time for them should be for you to.
caregiver /husband of wife with ALS
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