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Any ideas on how to make mum eat more?

PaulEd

Registered User
Feb 2, 2020
27
Worcestershire
Hi
My mother was diagnosed a year ago with AD though had signs for 3 years or so.
She lives independently and has a routine of cleaning, gardening, coffee with friends, pension day, etc but my worry is she doesn't eat enough which stems from when she was she told she had high cholesterol (now back to nomal) .

She just eats the same stuff, barely has anything in the fridge, has cupboards of tinned stuff never opened, because after a lifetime of cooking she can't be bothered to cook properly most of the time. So her diet is the same every day for breakfast and lunch (not enough).

When i try to explain to her that she should eat the whole cook chill meal she's opened, becuase it is important to eat, she goes into this mode -where she lists every she eats for a her main meals.'' I like that eggs and salmon, I get those sausages from...' but then i point out that's three meals she mentions,what about the otherdays of the week?

We visited GP over new year as she's had problems with her medication and i brought up the subject of her weight (and she's only a few pounds lighter than she was in her pre illness days). She listens to the doctor but the doctor - while normally helpful - didn't suggest we weigh mum. It's painful seeing her eat so little. But when we take her out, boy can she eat. Any thoughts?
 

Jessbow

Registered User
Mar 1, 2013
3,014
West Hertfordshire
I am not sure she cant be bothered, she may have forgotten how.Cooking for one isnt much fun at the best of times.

Would she microwave ready meals if you got them in?
 

marionq

Registered User
Apr 24, 2013
6,070
Scotland
Cooking and food are not as interesting when you live alone. If she is otherwise well and eating enough to keep her going I would stop worrying. My SIL is 84 and rarely has food in the house unless I buy it and fill her fridge and cupboards but she can run for a bus faster than most people half her age. It is her choice and I try to ignore it even though I get exasperated.
 

PaulEd

Registered User
Feb 2, 2020
27
Worcestershire
Cooking and food are not as interesting when you live alone. If she is otherwise well and eating enough to keep her going I would stop worrying. My SIL is 84 and rarely has food in the house unless I buy it and fill her fridge and cupboards but she can run for a bus faster than most people half her age. It is her choice and I try to ignore it even though I get exasperated.
OK I cannot attend to every day as I live a long distance from her but there others in the family who pop round 2/3 times a week. Every time i text her she seems to be going to the supermarket but there is never much stuff. She should be drinking more milk, and having cheese but 'it's fattening'
 

PaulEd

Registered User
Feb 2, 2020
27
Worcestershire
I am not sure she cant be bothered, she may have forgotten how.Cooking for one isnt much fun at the best of times.

Would she microwave ready meals if you got them in?
I get your point.I don't think she has forgotten because she does still formulate meals , just not very complexe ones, as she said she found it boring. I bought her an easy to cook meal book but she's not used it.
 

LynneMcV

Volunteer Moderator
May 9, 2012
3,944
south-east London
As well as being a necessity, eating can be quite a social thing too. I know for myself that I make more of an effort if I am eating with others rather than eating alone.

As your mother enjoys going out for coffee, I wonder if she might benefit from joining a lunch group - or simply build it into her routine that she meets up with a friend for lunch each week - that doesn't cover the whole week I know, but it would be one less day to worry about.

Would she be accepting of someone coming in to make her lunch or dinner? I know one lady who is 95 and very independent, but she was forgetting to eat at lunchtime. Her daughter now has someone going in for an hour each day to make lunch and have a chat and cuppa with her mother.

Is there any chance that the family who see her 2 to 3 times per week might be able to invite her to share a meal with them at home with their family from time to time?

Just some ideas, they might not be suitable in all circumstances, I know - but they can be successful for some.
 

PaulEd

Registered User
Feb 2, 2020
27
Worcestershire
As well as being a necessity, eating can be quite a social thing too. I know for myself that I make more of an effort if I am eating with others rather than eating alone.

As your mother enjoys going out for coffee, I wonder if she might benefit from joining a lunch group - or simply build it into her routine that she meets up with a friend for lunch each week - that doesn't cover the whole week I know, but it would be one less day to worry about.

Would she be accepting of someone coming in to make her lunch or dinner?

Is there any chance that the family who see her 2 to 3 times per week might be able to invite her to share a meal with them at home with their family from time to time?.
Thank you. I try to encourage her to join social groups because until 3 years ago she was doing all sorts of things -language classes, dancing. She has lost confidence. When I suggest she rejoins she doesn't want to and when friends go around to see her' they are 'interfering' And she says she's well known in town because of her job before retirement so she bumps into people all the time. but I am not sure about the quality of the conversation. it's just a holiday. Rest of the family - yes, they do go around - it's a bit complicated for here. it's just she lacks any motivation to do anything
 

CherryTT4

Registered User
Dec 5, 2019
33
Wiltshire
My mother only lives across the road and I take her up a meal most nights. However I have discovered that one of the local care homes does a food delivery service. They deliver at lunch time a hot meal and also a sandwich for the evening. I think it is only about £7 which is enough but not that bad. It may be worth checking with care homes in your area to see if they have a similar service, even if you only use it 2 -3 times a week or when required.
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
12,164
South coast
People in the early stages of dementia often lose confidence and motivation because they are beginning to forget how to do things. It takes a lot of mental effort to do them and it is much easier to say that you cant be bothered.
Even though mum had been widowed for 25 years and had been used to cooking herself lovely meals before the dementia started, she did this in the early stages. She was full of "reasons" why she wasnt cooking, but basically she didnt know what to eat for dinner and couldnt quite remember how to cook anything, so she would often just boil an egg because she still knew how to do that

I expect that your mum has forgotten about the cookery book you bought her and probably forgets about opened stuff in the fridge. I think that getting someone else to cook her a meal - a "meals on wheels" service, a carer coming in to heal up a ready meal, family inviting her to join them one day a week, etc - is the way to go.
 

Sirena

Registered User
Feb 27, 2018
2,199
Hi
It's painful seeing her eat so little. But when we take her out, boy can she eat. Any thoughts?
She can't remember how to prepare food, and she also needs prompting to eat. She may also find that some foods are not very palatable any more (the sense of taste changes in a person with dementia).

The same thing happened to my mother in the earlier stages. She would eat repetitive food - mainly toast. She had Wiltshire Foods ready meals delivered, but she forgot they were in the freezer, and she also said she'd gone off them - ready meals are not particularly tempting. But if she went to eat at a friend's house, she'd clear her plate enthusiastically. She lost a lot of weight.

I had to get carers in to prepare her meals. They also had to prompt her to eat it, and sit with her while she did. She didn't gain weight, but she didn't lose any more. She loved cake, and puddings - anything sweet and soft. So it's worth buying those sort of foods for your mother to tempt her, but you also need to ensure she eats them. Don't worry about her eating 'healthy food'. My mother's favourite foods are now fried eggs, chips, and cake - high calorie food which is what she needs.
 

Alibear

Registered User
Jun 12, 2018
29
Devon
I too have a problem getting my Mum to eat now - she certainly has lost the ability to prepare meals now so i try to keep a couple of ready meals in the fridge and a sandwich as she can just about manage that - as long as she remember to look in the fridge. She constantly tells me she isn't hungry and has what she wants so i shouldn't worry! I make sure she has at least one decent meal a day when i visit (or a relative) and keep a supply of fruit on show as she will eat this, also yoghurts etc in the fridge she can grab easily. She had a faze of eating only very sweet things (chocolate brownies from Costa were favourite!) But thankfully this has stopped now as she was flagged up as diabetes risk at her last review. My Mum is very mobile so i can't very easily arrange for meals on wheels or carers to visit at meal times as she constantly goes out.
 

PaulEd

Registered User
Feb 2, 2020
27
Worcestershire
People in the early stages of dementia often lose confidence and motivation because they are beginning to forget how to do things. It takes a lot of mental effort to do them and it is much easier to say that you cant be bothered.
Even though mum had been widowed for 25 years and had been used to cooking herself lovely meals before the dementia started, she did this in the early stages. She was full of "reasons" why she wasnt cooking, but basically she didnt know what to eat for dinner and couldnt quite remember how to cook anything, so she would often just boil an egg because she still knew how to do that

I expect that your mum has forgotten about the cookery book you bought her and probably forgets about opened stuff in the fridge. I think that getting someone else to cook her a meal - a "meals on wheels" service, a carer coming in to heal up a ready meal, family inviting her to join them one day a week, etc - is the way to go.
Thank you There is a meals on wheels thing operating but she is having none of it! But i keep trying. thanks.
 

DesperateofDevon

Registered User
Jul 7, 2019
2,660
Hi
My mother was diagnosed a year ago with AD though had signs for 3 years or so.
She lives independently and has a routine of cleaning, gardening, coffee with friends, pension day, etc but my worry is she doesn't eat enough which stems from when she was she told she had high cholesterol (now back to nomal) .

She just eats the same stuff, barely has anything in the fridge, has cupboards of tinned stuff never opened, because after a lifetime of cooking she can't be bothered to cook properly most of the time. So her diet is the same every day for breakfast and lunch (not enough).

When i try to explain to her that she should eat the whole cook chill meal she's opened, becuase it is important to eat, she goes into this mode -where she lists every she eats for a her main meals.'' I like that eggs and salmon, I get those sausages from...' but then i point out that's three meals she mentions,what about the otherdays of the week?

We visited GP over new year as she's had problems with her medication and i brought up the subject of her weight (and she's only a few pounds lighter than she was in her pre illness days). She listens to the doctor but the doctor - while normally helpful - didn't suggest we weigh mum. It's painful seeing her eat so little. But when we take her out, boy can she eat. Any thoughts?
Ah ha! I’ve got years of experience of this conundrum!!
After filling freezer with expensive ready meals - novelty wore of that soon, as did meals being delivered I cook extra over a two week period & pack up & freeze in metal containers ( bulk bought ! Like the take away ones you can get!) label the lid & “da-dah” home cooked meals for the next fortnight !!

Make sure you write all the reheating details !

I only put 3 tablespoons of food in any container as too much food can be daunting!

I add cream to gravy & sauces for extra calories & list all meals on a note posted one on the fridge & one on the freezer to remind Aged Mother what’s available! ( also now she has carers in!)

it’s no trouble just cooking up a little extra- & I don’t ask Mum what she wants I just bring what we have had.

I can turn a beef casserole into a ragu dish by adding jar of pesto & passata ( I have become adept at lazy cooking!) & for another meal can just add tortellini to it with grated cheese.Then add some chilli beans & a drop of cream to the basic casserole now ragu to create a mild chilli dish... Brucie bonus you can get small portions of ready cooked rice to add !

Don’t get me started on my chicken or fish recipes!!!
no wonder my waistline is thickening!!
 

DeBlonde

Registered User
Jan 23, 2019
34
Mum is a bit hit and miss with her food. She refuses ready meals or meals on wheels, saying she is quite capable
of cooking, but I know different! She has lost loads of weight , so much so that the dietitian put her on those
fortified milkshakes, twice a day. We have managed to persuade her to buy full fat milk and yogurt, butter etc.
I also introduced her to tinned custard, which she loves. I think she has difficulty with timing and sequencing the steps needed to put a meal together. If she goes out for lunch or to us for dinner she always clears her plate. Her carers check that she's getting/had something to eat when they visit for the evening meds call. I suspect that next we'll be requesting that they prepare something for her, but evenings are their busy times and they would prefer Mum to have a sandwich at that time rather than a hot meal. Challenging times!

I have been tempted to batch cook for her but don't want to make a rod for my own back!
 

DesperateofDevon

Registered User
Jul 7, 2019
2,660
Mum is a bit hit and miss with her food. She refuses ready meals or meals on wheels, saying she is quite capable
of cooking, but I know different! She has lost loads of weight , so much so that the dietitian put her on those
fortified milkshakes, twice a day. We have managed to persuade her to buy full fat milk and yogurt, butter etc.
I also introduced her to tinned custard, which she loves. I think she has difficulty with timing and sequencing the steps needed to put a meal together. If she goes out for lunch or to us for dinner she always clears her plate. Her carers check that she's getting/had something to eat when they visit for the evening meds call. I suspect that next we'll be requesting that they prepare something for her, but evenings are their busy times and they would prefer Mum to have a sandwich at that time rather than a hot meal. Challenging times!

I have been tempted to batch cook for her but don't want to make a rod for my own back!
Just cook extra as & when it’s easier believe me ! Xx
 

DesperateofDevon

Registered User
Jul 7, 2019
2,660
Honestly I’ve been as much use as a chocolate teapot... but my ongoing experiences ( battles of will!!!) might be of some use to someone ( I hope !)
Try not to worry , easy to say but nothing you do will change the outcome I’m afraid. You are doing your best ..sadly we can’t win this battle just muddle through the best we can
(((Hugs)))
 

PaulEd

Registered User
Feb 2, 2020
27
Worcestershire
Just a quick update on this . Unfortunately I live a long way from my mother so it's down to my family members who live nearby to help (but i do what i can from a distance). One family member adds stuff to his weekly shop so that mum has variety but she just won't eat anything that she doesn't like. Everything is sadly narrowed down to fruit salad (nice but too healthy) a thimball of wine, but now lots of chocolate and tonic water, and grapes. Even when it is something nice like lasagne or fish pie she turns her nose up at it because she hasnt bought it herself. Any other suggestions (because when she does go out she eats 3 course meals)?
 

TNJJ

Registered User
May 7, 2019
1,377
cornwall
Just a quick update on this . Unfortunately I live a long way from my mother so it's down to my family members who live nearby to help (but i do what i can from a distance). One family member adds stuff to his weekly shop so that mum has variety but she just won't eat anything that she doesn't like. Everything is sadly narrowed down to fruit salad (nice but too healthy) a thimball of wine, but now lots of chocolate and tonic water, and grapes. Even when it is something nice like lasagne or fish pie she turns her nose up at it because she hasnt bought it herself. Any other suggestions (because when she does go out she eats 3 course meals)?
Would she eat better if someone stayed with her for lunch?(more than likely after lockdown). I find my dad with VD eats better when I’m there ,especially after cooking it.
 

Weasell

Registered User
Oct 21, 2019
226
Some random thoughts:
Are you weighing her every now and then?
Has any family member watched her operate the microwave to ensure she actually can do it! Beware of hostess mode where they can fool you into thinking they can do a lot more than they can.
Have you requested the doctor do blood tests just to check nothing else is going on?
Along the search bar at the top of this forum if you type in sweet tooth or something like that you can read other peoples posts which explain how people‘s taste buds change completely to prefer sweeter foods.
Would the doctor consider a referral to a dietician ?
Remember most of us eat too much which is why 62 percent of our population is fat.
My mother eats mainly junk, then one healthy meal in the evening I cook. She is a Duracel mother that goes on and on and on! Maybe try and worry a bit less? That is easier said said done ? All the best!