Ideas for store cupboard items so MIL doesn't starve?

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by JayGun, Sep 10, 2014.

  1. JayGun

    JayGun Registered User

    Jun 24, 2013
    We're in this vicious cycle where MIL doesn't realise that there is any problem so she flies into a rage if anybody tries to help her because she's fine and how dare anybody suggest otherwise.

    When I suggest we do some shopping she usually says she went yesterday, or she's going tomorrow. (She didn't and isn't.)

    If I manage to get her into a supermarket and drag her round with me "because I need some shopping" she wouldn't buy anything unless prompted, and even with major prompting she rarely buys more than a couple of things. I push the trolley up to things I know she likes and discuss whether or not to get some myself. this works about one fifth of the time. Maybe less. Going to the supermarket takes almost four hours including the obligatory coffee and cake before and after and she buys maybe three things if I'm lucky.

    She thinks she cooks dinner every night but actually any fresh vegetables she buys get shoved in the cupboard under the sink and left to rot.

    If she goes to a supermarket by herself she usually leaves empty handed because she can't make decisions. A friend of the family's grand-daughter once drove her home because MIL stood and stared at the cauliflowers for the entire time it took the friend of the family's grand-daughter to do a massive weekly shop and she was worried about her.

    MIL won't accept regular shopping deliveries from us, she flies into a rage or she pretends to be fine and then lobs it all in the wheelie bin before we've even put the key in the ignition to go home. I can get away with dropping something round that I "saw on special offer" sometimes, but we often find those things in the bin too.

    At the moment she's constipated and also suffering from faecal incontinence. She refuses to take anything or see the doctor, but she is also ringing the doctor's surgery surgery regularly and raging at them and then hanging up abruptly when they can't give her an appointment "now". When we take her to the doctor's at her request she can't remember why she wanted to go and so just shouts "liars!" at us when we try to explain.

    She is also sleeping from Loose Women to Coronation Street every afternoon and so not sleeping at night and living exclusively on coffee, bread and margarine and Mr Kipling's cakes.

    Oh goodness. I'm so sorry for this essay. What I would like please is suggestions for store cupboard items that I can put in her cupboards "in case of bad weather so she doesn't have to go out in ice and snow if she doesn't want to" (nothing to do with her capacity.)

    I'm so exhausted from dealing with her at the moment that I'm drawing a bit of a blank after tinned fruit. Any ideas?
  2. Not so Rosy

    Not so Rosy Registered User

    Nov 30, 2013
    How about some tinned food Mum would only need to heat up.

    Marks and Spencer's do some decent things in tins. There is a lean steak in gravy, beef bolognese, chicken in white sauce, chilli and curries if she likes spicy. Glass jars of veg will be better than no veg or rotting veg as well.
  3. garnuft

    garnuft Registered User

    Sep 7, 2012
    My Mam was the same, I adored her but never for a second would she admit anything was wrong.

    We grew up eating fish on Fridays (not Catholic, Anglican but it's how we were brought up) and Mam always liked fish from the Fish shop but she would never have them in the four or five hours you were there...'You can get them later.' :eek:

    'Well, I'll just stop from morn till night, eh Mam?!' I would think.

    Looking back it was because she hadn't much of an appetite for meals, she liked lots of small meals.
    Trying to get her to shop normally was nigh on impossible.

    I used to take homemade meals, small portions and say I had made too much, she would eat them to do me a favour.
    I used to make sandwiches, wrap them in clingfilm and leave them out on her kitchen worktop as she 'forgot' to look into the fridge for food.
    Ready made sandwiches, homemade 'leftovers', cream cakes and yoghurts kept my Mam going for about two years!

    It's awful, it's worrisome, more so if you can't be there for the greater part of every day but it seems to be an inevitable part of the process for some people. A lack of appetite but still a strong determination that all in the garden is rosy.

    I used to buy her favourite...Baked Potato with Prawn topping...she thought they were homemade, if she knew I paid nearly a fiver a shot for a baked tattie, she wouldn't have been able to eat it!
    I spent a fortune on shopping for food for her, she got so troubled by paying her way, it was easier just to let things go.

    My sister and I had an ironic laugh when I had to separate Mam's estate between her five children...'You need an extra £500 for the baked potatoes' she said.

    I didn't take it.

    Taties don't cost that much, surely? ;):)
  4. Lindy50

    Lindy50 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2013
    Oh, I so identify with this :)

    My mum is too immobile to shop for herself now. I tried a shopping delivery service about a year ago, a great idea where you place an order by phone, and for a fiver someone literally gets it from the shelves of your local shop and brings it to you. This didn't work out, because mum literally couldn't make any sort of list, even with help. This was one of the earlier episodes that made me realise just how unable she was to manage her life.

    Anyway I now do an online order for her and JayGun, boy do I struggle to get things she'll eat!! Like garnuft I concentrate on her favourites, eg every Friday I take in a prawn mayo sandwich :p, and on Wednesdays I take her to the local pub for a 'pensioners lunch' ( we both qualify!) So that's two days she has something like a proper meal, plus she comes to us most Sundays (up to three now). In her cupboard I put tinned salmon and corned beef ( though she has never used them, I do when I 'fancy a sandwich' :rolleyes: and she shares one with me....). In her fridge I put favoured snacks like pork pies, and I can never resist a couple of ready meals, although mostly they end up in the bin.

    Fruit jellies, yogurts, chilled rice pudding, trifles, cakes....mum eats all of those with enthusiasm. Oh, and she eats plates and plates of crisps...:eek:

    I have given up buying salad, green veg is never eaten and just moulders away.....:(

    Basically, as long as I can give mum two or three reasonable food days a week, and she drinks enough, I just go with the flow on the other days....

    Sorry JayGun, this probably isn't very helpful, is it? But it seems to be a problem a lot of us do struggle with.

    All the best

    Lindy xx
  5. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    I think there comes a point where it's more important that you eat rather than what you actually eat and has been said more like snack sized meals than a full blown dinnerplate full.
    My mother seemed to like tinned food and microwave meals, stew, Bolognese even chilli whether it's easier to eat and digest being so highly processed or just the high salt content and flavour enhancers I never worked out. Tinned soups was another one she could do a whole can of Heinz tomato soup in about 30 seconds mind you I can do the same with a can of their vegetable soup (other brands of soup are available):)
    think back to what she used to enjoy and start from there.

    BLONDY Registered User

    Oct 29, 2011
    2000 MILES AWAY
    Hello so your walking up walls backwards think about it how succesful that would that be, no matter what you put in the cupboards or in the fridge or on the counters will it make any difference. My Mum same thing, what I did was to arrange through social services an assessment by an occupational therapist. It worked to an extent as without supervision Mum would have starved carers came in to supervise meal times, my Mum totally refused meals on wheels etc. something about these conditions predisposes the person to turn into patholigal liars and dellusional monsters. My Mum still did manage to nearly starve herself to death but was saved from the brink. So when you finally get some help check the daily notes the carers leave a diet of toast and water as we all know is totally inadequate apparently some carers are oblivious to this and need your help in dietary requirements. Hope this helps you.
    Kind Regards
  7. Tufty

    Tufty Registered User

    Jul 18, 2014
    #7 Tufty, Sep 11, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2014

    Store cupboard: tins of soup (hearty ones with chunks of meat, lentil and bacon, minestrone, posh Baxter's game soups), baked beans, baked beans with sausages, fish (sardines, tuna ...), peanut butter, tins of pulses (chick peas etc). Really shooting in the dark here - what does/did she like to eat?

    BUT sounds to me that you're way past the point of topping up her store cupboard.

    Could you get her into the doctor's on the grounds that "The Doctor wants to see you for your annual physical - the practice now does this for all patients over the age of X"? Fake a letter saying this (if practice won't do it for you)?!

    Very best of luck!

  8. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    Radcliffe on Trent
    #8 Pickles53, Sep 11, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2014
    So recognise the problem, tried a lot of the other suggestions but couldn't say we ever really cracked it. Even the OT in the end couldn't suggest anything other than letting mum eat whatever she wanted rather than worrying about a balanced diet, getting the carers to prepare something every time they went in and keeping a food diary. (No family lived near enough to take her home-made stuff.)

    We hoped it would be better when mum moved to a care home where the meals are really nice, but she still has a tiny appetite. She doesn't even want her formerly favourite things when we take them in (Haslet sandwiches, anybody?)

    The care home staff have been able to coax her into the occasional glass of Complan which gives a bit more nutrition and also always make her tea very milky. It helps a bit, but she is still losing weight. Trouble is, although I want them to keep encouraging her to eat, this is one of the few areas of her life where she still has some control over what happens now she is completely wheelchair dependant. In the end I feel I have to respect her wishes.

    The little individual pots of custard and rice pudding which had quite long shelf-lives are the only things I remember being popular and they could be eaten cold as well as hot.
  9. jen54

    jen54 Registered User

    May 20, 2014
    we haven't been able to get mum to come out to the shops with us for months and months, she never needs anything- because she hasn't a clue what she has
    she wont eat cooked meals at all, hates veg and has very simple tastes
    we have resorted to buying snack foods to put in the fridge, stuff to make sandwiches with, nibbles we think she likes- ie pork pies, cocktail sausages, cheese flan, sliced chicken,ham, yogurts and individual dessets- she loves the little individual cheese cakes - its a nightmare trying ot keep up the variety, but I think she each tiem she says oooh.havent had these for ages LOL
    I pop in carrot sticks, and grapes-and treats- try to change the biscuits to cereal bars etc, things for kids that have some nutrition - I have changed her sandwich spread to Clover boost, which has all vitamins in, luckily she likes grainy brad, so that is what I get
    she doesn't question how it gets there once it arrives, she just lets us shop quite happily, she even asked me today who had put the empty ham pack and empty biscuit pack on the sink drainer- she had forgotten she had those things and had eaten them! I said she had had them, and she said ah, I thought I had a lodger!

    but she does tend to browse, so whether its meal time or not, she does eat it.

    she does however tend to eat thigns all in one go if she likes them..
    and we do get her her sherry, but that is now once every two or more she wil
  10. Lindy50

    Lindy50 Registered User

    Dec 11, 2013
    Jen, until very recently I felt so guilty just getting mum sausage rolls etc....the kind of thing you describe! And I'd get ready meals as well, until I finally accepted that I was just wasting her money, she just won't eat them.....

    A small pub meal goes down well, but only tiny portions of our Sunday dinners etc (which we have largely in the hope she'll like them ;))

    It's good to read these posts, it helps me to accept that mum's tastes and appetite have totally changed, and there's a limited amount I can do about it .....x
  11. garnuft

    garnuft Registered User

    Sep 7, 2012
    #11 garnuft, Sep 11, 2014
    Last edited: Sep 11, 2014
    Aww...that was Mam's catchphrase. :) At least it meant she was enjoying it, individual Tiramisus were totally luxury in a tub to my mother...sweet. Both the pudding and my Mam :)
  12. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    How about biscuits? Might not be great nutritionally but at least you don't have to heat them up.
  13. Rageddy Anne

    Rageddy Anne Registered User

    Feb 21, 2013
    Life's a picnic...

    Once the memory of food has gone, I think the tummy doesn't remember either, so the snacking goes on. When my husband raids the fridge he finds things like jen5's list of snacks. And now the meals at mealtimes are smaller. Life has become one big picnic.
  14. Trace2012

    Trace2012 Registered User

    Jun 24, 2013
    This is exactly how my mam is! Crisps are a lifesaver! I know there not very good for her but shes lost a stone since xmas! So surely there better than starving! Crisps, trifles, ready meal curries, apples and oranges, oh and ice lollies!!!

    Sent from my iPhone using Talking Point
  15. JayGun

    JayGun Registered User

    Jun 24, 2013
    Thanks ever so much everybody.

    I've been making a really good list as I've been reading down the posts.

    MIL had meningitis as a child so she lost her sense of smell and some of her sense of taste so she's always said she's not that interested in food because she can't taste it.

    When we take a buffet tea round on Sundays she eats that happily enough, but when we leave the leftovers of cold meat, pork pies, salad etc in her fridge she rarely touches it.

    I tried taking round a small cooked dinner every night, but she never ate it. She'd always say she's already eaten or she'll eat it later then I'd have to go hunting for my plate in the bin. After three months of trying she never ate one of them and I gave up.

    She's not losing weight because of all the cake and biscuits and toast she eats every day but she is bunged up and having some discomfort as well as some accidents. I can't get her to drink juice or take Senokot. I'm a bit of a failure really.

    I'm a bit irritated with the GP actually. MIL has been ringing up the surgery and either giving them a mouthful or hanging up when they say she can't have an appointment right now, but eventually the receptionists got to know her voice and resolved to fit her in.

    So she saw the doctor by herself and doesn't seem to have told her about the faecal incontinence or the constipation, or the fact that all she eats is cake/biscuits/toast and all she drinks is coffee, just the tummy ache, and is being referred for a colonoscopy. I can't help thinking that if the doctor had the full picture she might have tried al laxative first. I have an appointment to speak to her next week.

    I feel as if she simply believed what MIL told her - which will have been a load of nonsense. Every time I've ever been with her she always says she cooks a proper tea from scratch every night - when in fact it's been several years since she last did that. She just makes toast. She can come across quite well if you're only with her for ten minutes but it does say dementia on her file. Meanwhile, while we wait for the colonoscopy appointment I've got even less chance of getting a senokot into her and she'll be uncomfortably bunged up and in pain for even longer.

    Ooh off I go on one again.
  16. Dunkers58

    Dunkers58 Registered User

    Nov 9, 2013
    the medicine given before a colonoscopy has a strong purging that may solve the problem if your Mum will take it and/ or tolerate it,. Do you think she will cooperate with having the Colonoscopy?
  17. Pickles53

    Pickles53 Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    Radcliffe on Trent
    Jaygun when you speak to the doctor ask about what your MIL will have to do to prepare for a colonoscopy. I'm sure I have read on here previously that there is a complicated regime about what you can eat/drink beforehand. If so would MIL be able to manage this?
  18. Mammabat

    Mammabat Registered User


    I really hope you get a proper answer from the GP when you see him/her next week. The bowel prep they send out for cleansing the colon before scoping is really like an industrial strength laxative and can act super quickly so be ready and possibly stay with her while she has to take it! I've had several scopes so I know from experience... On the original subject of meals, have you thought on small frozen ready meals? I'm sure you have, we are thinking on trying the mini-meal range from one of the home food delivery companies ( didn't know if it's ok to mention them or not) ... Hoping all goes well for MIL and you xxx
  19. Sussexwench

    Sussexwench Registered User

    Jul 19, 2013
    This is a battle I have too. I've disconnected mum's gas cooker for safety but not got ann electric one as we're in the middle of moving her nearer me but this has been fraught with probs. All I have is a microwave at her place. When I visit I microwave a meal either convenience or home cooked. Meanwhile she eats Higgedy Pies, small plastic cups of preached in their own juice, 'nakd' cocoa bars which are date n nut look like chocolate. I also make smoothies disguised as mint chocolate ie fresh mint with grated chocolate but also have spinach n other green veg. In them. Lettuce or salad leaves tossed in olive oil gets my mum moving after constipation but its hard work getting her to eat it. Sorry not much help but some ideas maybe?
  20. FozzyC

    FozzyC Registered User

    Aug 3, 2014
    Hi, struggling with similar situation but with a complicated aspect that dad (recently diagnosed, total denial, moderate mixed dementia) cares for my mum (frail, multiple falls, depressed, heart failure, hardly eats, misses medication). So I have been very concerned about what mum eats, I often visited after work and she's taken no pills, eaten nothing all day. She has had three falls in last six weeks and broke her fibula in her leg in the first of those.

    Dad will get up and make himself breakfast, he also eats a lot of fruit, does himself a sandwich, but mum will either be forgotten or refuse. I have finally got lunchtime carer in during week and asked she gives mom lunch, I have then needed to see something that's not mouldy is in fridge for carer to offer. I've taken little higgidy quiches which mum likes, plates of ready made sandwiches, but it's hard to get those over on a regular basis so I have been racking my brains for things mum would eat that can stay in the cupboard. Dad often tells those who visit, including carer or my lovely friends who try to help, that they don't need to do food as he will do something for them both after they leave, I suspect he doesn't. He wants everyone to believe, or maybe he does believe himself, that mums diet is fine and he does EVERYTHING for her? If you saw state of kitchen and how dad handles food you would refuse to eat.

    Dad told me last week he doesn't want me taking food because then the food he buys or prepares then goes to waste. Truth is he over buys and overcooks constantly and the fridge becomes full of rotted corn on cob, mouldy stewed apple he has prepared, out of date yoghurts etc etc. the only reason I take food is to try to stop him poisoning my mum, one good bout of food poisoning would finish her I fear. Dad fixates on certain foods, currently pork scratchings, and when I ask if mum has eaten I'm told 'oh she's had a bag of scratchings, she loves them!'. He fetches things out of freezer but forgets so I find a cottage pie dated 18 August, so dad, is this out of freezer, er yes, must be, so when did you defrost it? He isn't sure, obviously. So mum lives on diet of scratchings, whisky and liquorice allsorts it seems.

    Dad regailed me with the lovely Sunday dinner he cooked, mum hardly ate any. He said mum had told him when to put things in the oven etc (he has never done domestic tasks, he didn't wash up until over 70, never cooked). I said how nice that he and mum could work together in the kitchen with mum sitting on a chair and advising him and she said 'oh, I'm not allowed in the kitchen'. Dad said she just gets in his way. Oh and he polices the fridge like a hawk, terrified we will throw things away, which of course we have to do sneakily to remove mouldy and out of date items.

    So my poor mums diet is controlled heavily by dad. Mum doesn't have dementia, but is profoundly depressed, telling me she wishes she was dead and is a prisoner in her own home. Dad is angry at me because he blames me for his diagnosis, his main issue is possibility of losing his licence, I went to memory appointments with him and did prompt him about a bump he had on hospital car park when he denied any issues. Truth is he's had a lot more accidents than that and I should have kept quiet but reported my concerns separately and saved myself a lot of grief this last week. I am at the point of not being allowed to go round or do anything and he has concealed that mum fell again this week.

    My SIL suggested small ready meals at M&S she tried for her nan, but I fear he would throw them away because remember, he looks after mums food. I fear mum is going to become a battleground, she is going to be how he proves there is nothing wrong with him.

    I have spoken to their GP and have appt to call again Thursday (have to make sure I'm not seen at surgery). I'm taking them for flu jabs today so it will be interesting to see how mums bruises are explained. My hubby is taking her to fracture clinic Thursday so maybe when on her own she can discuss what she wants. I'm there for falls pendant alarm visit Friday. GP did SS referral, at that time things weren't so bad, but I had to update them yesterday for mums protection but asked they are careful how they go in as I'm in enough trouble already, as only one can't play good cop, bad cop with a sibling.

    Will trawl this thread for suggestions. Maybe I can hide tinned goods and share their location with Carer? Sorry to ramble, but at end of my tether, don't wish to hijack post, but can empathise with concerns about nutrition and my daughter, a dietician tells me that getting calories in is main thing, even if it's full fat, cakes, biscuits. Wondering whether to see GP about supplement drinks for mum though?

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