1. Expert Q&A: Benefits - Weds 23 October, 3-4pm

    Our next expert Q&A will be on the topic of benefits. It will be hosted by Lauren from our Knowledge Services team. She'll be answering your questions on Wednesday 23 October between 3-4pm.

    You can either post your question >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll be happy to ask them on your behalf.

  1. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    786
    Hampshire
    I have no idea what my mum is eating! I take her shopping every week and make sure she has good food. She seems to be living on sandwiches as much of the food we buy has to be thrown out. Having said that she buys a 400g loaf on a Saturday (& tells me she buys another on a Thursday) so that is hardly enough for two sandwiches a day! I have persuaded her to buy three microwave meat dishes a week (no veg though) and I often have to throw at least one away. Yogurts, eggs, salad etc regularly need throwing away as they are well past there use by date. The freezer is jam packed but nothing ever seems to be used. She drinks a lot of full fat milk (over four litres a week). She seems well in herself but I would appreciate any thoughts/advice from other members of the forum!
    Thanks in advance (and in hope!!)
     
  2. henfenywfach

    henfenywfach Registered User

    May 23, 2013
    333
    rct
    Hi!

    I'm my dad's carer and have been for a few years now.

    I'm assuming that your mum has a diagnosis of dementia.

    There one point that we all take for granted is that if a disease affects the brain the functions it's responsible for can be impaired.
    It's not just remembering or recognising that we are hungry or thirsty it's also recognising their home where the kitchen is what is the kitchen?? We really can't take anything for granted.
    My dad drinks and forgets that he has to swallow. His brain isn't telling him to complete the action.
    Everyone is different and no two people are the same and I'm sure the things I've mentioned above can be helped. There are things we can do to help.
    Visual aids to label cupboards or put things out ready or do them together occasionally.
    If a person's memory is at a different part of their life and past then it's totally perceivable that present day kitchen or homes would be totally strange to that person.
    I was recommend everyone have a dementia friends session. They are so informative and can be found listed where and when at dementia friends. Org. UK. There are sessions suitable for children and adults.

    Best wishes
     
  3. fizzie

    fizzie Registered User

    Jul 20, 2011
    2,739
    I think that you have reached a point of her needing more help. She needs to either be eating with someone - a lunch club/day centre - or a family meal each evening or you need to put a carer in at meal times or a family member.

    She will quickly become malnourished if you don't and that will cause falls or urine infections (older people go downhill very quickly without good nourishment) and possibly worse she will give herself food poisoining. You are one step away from her eating food that is off. It is quite clear from what you are saying that she needs support
     
  4. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    11,719
    Female
    London
    Dementia isn't logical. A full fridge doesn't mean someone will eat. They will need prompts at certain times of the day. They might forget they haven't eaten. They might forget what food they have, where it is and how to prepare it. Fizzie is right, she would be best off having carers or going to a day centre plus getting other prompts to ensure she eats well.
     
  5. chris53

    chris53 Registered User

    Nov 9, 2009
    2,929
    London
    Good evening jknight,and a warm welcome to Talking Point:) yes eating seems to be a common problem when our loved one lives alone,throw in dementia and its a constant worry, ensure is a great standby which you can get on prescription, full of vitamins and easy to drink..I found from my own mum and also mum in law,that shopping for the usual food went out the window as time progresses..so snack/party foods were introduced, easy to eat,tiny cocktail sausages/sausage rolls,quiches etc individual wrapped cakes (left where they can be seen)cup a soups and bananas, so grazing rather then a complete meal, the logic and effort involved even with making a sandwich sometimes goes out the window and can be baffling when faced with a full freezer,what shall I have? how do I cook it:eek: even many cans are also difficult to open..if possible do have a chat with mums GP explaining your concerns and see what suggestions arise, the doctor could refer mum to social services for carer support or meals on wheels, having company around when eating seems to help a lot.
    Hope you can find a solution soon to help ease this worry for you.
    Take care,keep posting
    Chris x
     
  6. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    4,623
    USA
    Know what you mean

    Hi jknight and another welcome to TP from me as well.

    I was in the same situation with my mother. Before an accident and hospitalization and move to a care home, she was living alone, with no services, some distance from me. She assured me that she was fine (she wasn't) and was looking after herself (nope) and her flat (definitely not) just fine and didn't need or want any help.

    Well, a lot of people with dementia will say they are fine and don't want or need help, but unfortunately, that is the disease interfering.

    In my mother's case, I didn't understand how bad it was until she was hospitalized. She lost a huge amount of weight and was malnourished and had all sorts of vitamin deficiencies/imbalances. I also think some of her "stomach problems" were food poisoning, from eating spoiled food. It was really horrible. She also, despite claims to the contrary, wasn't sleeping, washing, washing up dishes, doing laundry, doing any cleaning, wearing clean clothes, taking her medicines properly, or having any sort of human contact.

    Her fridge and pantry and freezer were full of spoiled and outdated food. I don't think she was eating anything, except ice cream, candy, and maybe bread. I am betting some of this sounds familiar to you.

    I would certainly consider that things have gotten to the point, where your mother needs some help and support of some kind. This isn't to criticise you or suggest you've failed in any way, just that the situation is progressing and perhaps it's time for a different approach.

    Best wishes to you.
     
  7. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    786
    Hampshire
    Thank you everyone!

    I don't think mum has forgotten how to heat up food or when mealtimes are. I think it is more that she can't be bothered (she was widowed 20 months ago after having been with my dad since she was 16 (she is 85 now) and she no longer understands 'use by' & 'best before' dates. Her bungalow is clean and she bathes and washes every day. She still does her hair and puts on make up whether or not she is going out (doesn't happen more than once or twice a week) She spends her days doing quite complex jigsaw puzzles. She doesn't remember what she has eaten (always tells me 'chicken' if she has been out with her younger brother, who is a complete star with her! Sorry - bit of a stream of consciousness!! This is the first place I feel I can say exactly what I need to!!
     
  8. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    4,623
    USA
    Hi, jknight. I'm relieved to hear that your mother isn't currently struggling with other issues, but I agree with you that the food/nutrition one is a worry.

    Given her age and situation (sorry to hear about your father's passing), I can see that it is very likely she doesn't want to be bothered with cooking and preparing meals the way she used to. I think a lot of us don't always feel like cooking, especially just for one person!

    So here are some thoughts I have:

    -she may not be feeling hungry, either due to the dementia, possibly other medical issues, maybe medication, or just not having as much of an appetite anymore. This may make her less inclined to prepare a meal. This was a problem with my mother (for all the above reasons) and I've heard others here say this as well.

    -the dementia may be a factor in this, but a subtle one. Many PWD (persons with dementia), at any stage of the disease but especially earlier on, will express that things "are too difficult" or that they "can't be bothered" or that they don't want to/are unable to muster up the energy to do things they used to do. One theory is that the disease robs the brain and body of energy; another is that it takes so much energy and effort to do what you used to do, or to cope, that you just don't have much left over. Whatever the cause, it's a common story here on TP and in my support groups.

    -your guess that she is no longer seeing/reading/understanding sell by and use by dates, is a good one. If I had said to my mother, oh, look, the butter has expired, she would have replied, throw it out! But she never looked or saw or understood (the oldest butter I threw out from her fridge was four years expired, I kid you not). Some of it could be due to eyesight or lighting or print that's hard to see or other external factors, but some of it is clearly the dementia interfering.

    I think my best suggestion right now, would be some combination of:

    -company at mealtimes (family member, friend, carer)
    -a lunch club or day care where there's a meal
    -maybe a meal delivery? do you have Meals on Wheels in the UK? (please forgive this ignorant Yank) preferably combined with some company, as a reminder to eat
    -try different sorts of food that may have more appeal--think nutritious snacks, rather than full meals
    -talk to the GP and consider getting her checked for deficiencies, and adding any needed vitamin/mineral supplements

    TP is a great place to come and say whatever is on your mind, ask questions, do a search and read old threads, or whatever you need. It's always open!
     
  9. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    786
    Hampshire
    #10 jknight, Jan 17, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2016
    Thank you SO much!! You have helped me see the problem from a different perspective x and yes, we do have meals on wheels!
     
  10. betsie

    betsie Registered User

    Jun 11, 2012
    253
    Your mum sounds exactly like mine. In the last two weeks I have started carers going in every evening to get her a meal and make sure she eats as I think she was only eating crisps, biscuits and bread.
    At the weekend she also has a lunch visit. I arranged them through a local Alzheimers charity and although resistant at first, mum has got used to them now ( it is one lady 6 days a week and someone else on her day off).

    My mum eats fine in company but I think she isn't bothered when alone and has forgotten how to make a proper meal ( I kept finding things uneaten in the oven and she puts everything in the oven on at 50 degrees).

    The carer has Sussed her out already so when she tells her she has already eaten ( which she hasn't) she will still make her something and 9 times out of 10 she eats it.

    It also means mum has a bit of company for an hour in the evening which breaks up her night. I would definitely consider it.
     
  11. Amy in the US

    Amy in the US Registered User

    Feb 28, 2015
    4,623
    USA
  12. curtainsgalore

    curtainsgalore Registered User

    Nov 2, 2014
    46
    It's quite common for people with dementia to develop a sweet tooth that maybe they didn't have before. My Mum couldn't think what to eat or when but would go shopping and buy masses of cakes and biscuits, nothing with any goodness. After getting to just over 5 stone carers were called in. I bought good food, ready meals and frozen veg that you steam in the microwave. Carers don't have very long to prepare meals. Mum put on nearly 3 stone before the disease progressing and she needed to go in a care home. Getting carers gave Mum a bit longer at home than she would have had so worth a go. Good luck. Tough times.


    Sent from my iPad using Talking Point
     
  13. jknight

    jknight Registered User

    Oct 23, 2015
    786
    Hampshire
    Mine eats fine in company as well so it's not an appetite issue. I shall look into lunch clubs (I would be very happy with meals on wheels but I suspect mum wouldn't!)
     

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