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  1. #1
    New User
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    Jun 2013

    How to convince an alzheimer's patient who does not want to eat

    My grandmother is 79 and she is suffering from Alzheimer's. The condition began to deteriorate few days earlier when she stopped taking food altogether. Other symptoms like a complete loss of coherence and occasional violent outbursts(especially if one is trying to feed her) are there. Her primary caregivers are her children. Though they are extremely sympathetic and patient with her, still the problem remains that the final amount of food she takes is just not enough to live on. She has been on a low dose of sedative and my uncle(who is a doctor) suggests to increase the dose. She has become physically very weak and even collapsed once the sedatives started. Is there any option other than sedating and artificially feeding her? And is there any possibility of slightest improvement from her present mental condition? Some of you might have gone through similar situations. Please help.

  2. #2
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    My aunt who had Vas Dem did the same thing, stopped eating, and after 3 weeks stopped drinking. She made it clear she did not want anything, and also got cross if anyone tried to force her.

    In her case it was just nature taking its course, and all her systems shut down one by one.

    Please consider if your grandmother is just worn out, and if tube feeding might not really be a good thing in the long run.

  3. #3
    Registered User Jessbow's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    West Hertfordshire
    Have you considered leaving finger food, things she can just pick up and nibble on at her leisure?
    Dementia sufferers do seem to develop a sweet tooth, maybe sweet snacks - cake, buscuits would start her off again

    Does she drink? There are various fortified drinks around that might give some nourishment if she'll take them.

    I liken my mum to a child at times, and think what i'd do if she was my child- like many a 3 year old she too would get grumpy and play up if I tried to feed her against her wishes.
    I don't think you can make someone eat if they really don't want to. Just leave things she could eat and back away a bit. see what happens without making a fuss, as you would a child.
    Last edited by Jessbow; 25-06-2013 at 07:31 PM.

  4. #4
    Registered User
    Join Date
    May 2013
    Yes I do agree with Jessbow, my dad who has Alzheimer's has a really sweet tooth. (Mind, you I can't blame the illness, he always has had a sweet tooth!)

    Dad will eat little cakes, biscuits and he loves chocolate. Also he loves things like fish fingers and pizza slices that are really easy to pick up. If you leave it in front of him long enough he will notice it after a while and start eating.

    It is a difficult time for you, and very worrying. But my dad has had weeks of this not eating before and then I go and see him and all of a sudden he has started eating again. So you never know, perhaps this will happen.

    All the best to all of you and take care. Rosie xx

  5. #5
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Near Newark / Grantam
    Hi my mum has advance vascular dementia and at times won't eat or drink. I can't help with the eating, but we have found a straw with a small glass of juice seems to have helped with the drinking problem.

  6. #6
    New User
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    How is your grandmother's eyesight? Sensory impairments coupled with dementia normally cause more problems and confusion. If her eyesight is poor she may be having problems seeing the food, particularly if it is on a white plate, or white tray/table on a light surface, etc. In my experience as a Dementia Support Worker, we often advise family and carer's to use brightly coloured plates, yellow is a good colour. Finger food is best too, you don't want your loved one to be overwhelmed trying to use a knife or fork because sadly, they probably can't remember how to use them anymore. Sweet foods like cut up cake or sweet fruits sometimes works too.

    The same with encouraging someone to drink, particularly water, bright coloured juice is much more attractive to someone living with dementia, whereas water is just not really seen.

    Hope that helps

  7. #7
    New User
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Hi Riddhi,
    I just logged in and your post was the first one I saw.
    All day today my mum has said she is not hungry (Mum's dementia is fairly advanced).
    This afternoon I gave her a jam sandwich, usually a favourite, and she took bites from one small square, chewed it and then spat it back on to the plate. After she did this a couple of times I took the sandwich away, she then spent the next 15 minutes spitting, in her lap to start with and then in the rubbish bin beside her chair.
    I asked if her mouth hurt and she said no, I asked what was wrong with the food and she said, she thought that was what she had to do.
    She did eat a bit of breakfast, but refused to drink her juice.
    She is also refusing to drink as she says it makes her go to the loo "too much".
    I can only wait and see if anything changes at breakfast, tomorrow.
    I think if this continues it is going to be a hard one to crack.
    I do know how you feel, this disease is so hard.
    Take care, kind regards

  8. #8
    Account Closed
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Not eating or drinking is so tough on all of us.

    Here are a few thoughts that might help. If a person can forget where the toilet is or how to use it, logically they can forget how to eat. Have you tried eating with her - eating the same thing, that is. She can then copy you.

    Also you can encourage very nutritious and calorie rich drinks, which may go down easier. Warm, sweet and milky custard (add cream to bump up the calories), might work. Jelly and icecream seem to be perennial 'sick people' favorites. What about leaving some chocolates beside her bed, she may nibble them.

    There are also specialist who can determine if she is having problems swallowing. Have you followed up this path?

    Another favorite is lovely, home-made mashed potato slathered in delicious meaty gravy. Easy to swallow, tons of flavour, and no need to chew.

    What might work is 'toasting' each other. Perhaps a glass of quality fruit juice, and you all clink glasses and toast one relative or friend after another, and one sip gets downed at each clink of the glass.

    Shut down all distractions while eating. No visitors, no talk, no TV or entertainment. Or if it doesn't work in total silence and quiet, try some gentle music to relax.

    Make sure you are totally calm yourself. No agitation or tension, as they pick up on this and perhaps your tension is enough to worry her.

    Wishing you the best of luck. I can imagine how worrying this is for you. Keep us informed as to how things go. Take care, BE

  9. #9
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Jun 2013
    My mother would not eat, but the care home liquidised her dinners and she drank them. It looked disgusting, but did the trick as after about three weeks she started to eat again!

  10. #10
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    My husband has a very poor appetite now. I just put the food out and h]let him eat what he wants. when he shows me he has had enough I take it away.

    I just accept this. Perhaps I am too passive????


  11. #11
    Registered User lilysmybabypup's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2012
    Sydney, Australia
    Hi riddhi,

    I'm sorry you find yourself in this frustrating and frightening situation.

    I've found this most distressing, Dad is doing the same thing. He has gradually eaten less and less, and now it's 2 spoons of food per meal if I'm lucky. He's in hospital, horrid food, so we took in a tapioca custard, stewed pears, and a favourite sandwich. He ate half the sandwich but reacted as though poisoned when he had a bite of the pears. He's almost blind and had been able to feed himself with shredded food and a spoon, but since hospital we need to feed him. The odd reaction to taste has been interesting, today I gave him some puréed apple, something he would love once, he had one spoon, slammed his hand and foot down repeatedly, shook his head violently and yelled loudly that he hated it.

    He is still drinking in small amounts, and also did the food balling and spitting. I saw it get rolled around on his tongue over and over until it resembled a marble, then he looked around for somewhere to spit it out. I remind him to swallow and sometimes he just eats and swallows as usual, just a spoon or two, then other times tells me it's disgusting or spits it out.

    His decline is rapid and I fear he is making his choice.
    You've got to laugh, or else you'd cry


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