Just feeling a bit helpless now...

Katie Malarkey

Registered User
Mar 29, 2008
Another new member here. I've logged onto TP and read the posts as a guest for over a year now (usually with tears streaming down my face as I can connect to so many of the emotional situations). My lovely mam has had vascular dementia for about 7 years and is in a nursing home - I feel like it's eventually robbed her of her character and gentle nature and I hate it for doing that. We've been through what I can only assume are vast and varied 'stages' of the disease over the years, but I've come to a really hard part. For the last few months she's been eating/drinking less and less after breakfast time. She'll usually have her porridge and tea without problem, but then pureed lunch will be either batted away or spat out, and she'll only have a small sip of liquid. Tea time is just the same, although thats when I spend 2 hours every night coaxing her to sip some 'Ensure' milkshake drink the doc has eventually agreed to. I've experienced sundowning with her, but this seems beyond her 'normal' winding down.
She's wasting away and I feel helpless. I keep wondering if this her way of trying to end it all? or just another stage of this cruel disease.
Thanks for listening
Katie xx


Registered User
Jul 31, 2007
Dear Katie,
Welcome to Talking Point. You may be feeling helpless at the moment but you can only give your Mother love which you are obviously doing.
Unfortuntely this herrendous illness throws so many things to cope with.
There is so much support here on T.P. and more people will come on line.
It is one of the terrible part of the illness when perhaps the body is saying enough is enough.
I send you best wishes and please that you have posted.
Everyone is here for support.
Best wishes


Registered User
Nov 28, 2005
I keep wondering if this her way of trying to end it all? or just another stage of this cruel disease
Hello Katie:
It is a horrendous illness and it is very hard to find solutions. I guess in your Mum's case it is just another stage. It is hard and I totally understand your feeling of helplessness. I feel helpless too for my husband, but for totally different reasons - again its this wretched illness.

I cannot offer much advice cos you seem to be handling it as well as you can. If she does not want to eat then she will not - just like a child - if you try to force it what are you achieving? :confused:

I feel you can only continue to give her lots of TLC - holding hands, telling her you love her - all the usual special things.

From your post you have obviously discussed her nutrition with the GP - I really think you can do no more than you are already doing. It is sad but hopefully you will feel better for sharing this with us here; we understand because of our own situations.

Keep posting and take care Jan
Last edited:

Katie Malarkey

Registered User
Mar 29, 2008

Thankyou so much. TP has already given me much needed support just by reading and not posting - everyone is so open and honest I feel like I've joined friends who'll listen unconditionally!
I've just been reading some posts on 'After Dementia' and am crying again now.


Registered User
Nov 16, 2007
East Midlands
Hello Katie..

I can only give you a big hug and let you know that I care..

My husband isn't where your mam is yet..he's on the journey..

Glad to welcome you to TP..it helps to know you're not alone...

We're all on the journey with you, too..you can't force anyone to eat..give your mam love and hugs, as Jan suggested..let her know you're there..that's what counts..

Love gigi xx

Grannie G

Volunteer Moderator
Apr 3, 2006
Hello Katie.
My husband is nowhere near the stage your mother is at and yet there has been a big change in his eating habits.
He needs reminding to eat, is overfaced, even by the smaller portions I give him and has lost the pleasure he used to find in food.
Your mother is probably losing all interest in food. I doubt it`d deliberate, it sounds as if she no longer has the need for it.
It must be very hard for you to accept she may be winding down. I know you feel helpless but you are still there for her, encouraging and supporting her and letting her know she is not alone.
Take care xx


Registered User
Aug 9, 2007


I cannot say more, having been where you are. Mum eventually forgot how to eat. I think that it is not conscious, just part of acceptance of what is happening and a giving in to the struggle.

Mum had a few phases of not eating but came out of it a few times (at these times she was just not ready to go) before finally giving up a little while ago.

Lots of love at this difficult time.


Tender Face

Account Closed
Mar 14, 2006
NW England
I know I went through a torrid time 18 months / two years ago when I started to feel that consultants had 'given up' on mum .... perhaps now I am doing the same myself? That she refused her cholesterol medication? That she 'forgot' to eat? What great significance against the backdrop of all her health problems .....? If she chooses to take two bites of a sandwich washed down with a shot of whisky who am I to try deny her? Her GP and other medics have agreed with me to 'let it be' ......

I wonder why we persevere trying to 'make them eat'? Who's benefit is that for?

Sorry, it may sound heartless, but I totally agree Katie - that it has crossed my mind that my mother is choosing her own path - and from someone who used to have an 'odd tipple' appears to be purposely starving herself of food and poisoning herself with alcohol ...... do I force her to prolong her sad life or let her be? (if she was out collapsing drunk I might have a different take on it of course).

Perhaps she is happy that she is, in some small way, taking some control of her own destiny? For that, I am proud of her, and can but hope I've read it right. There is not much element of choice in the situation is there? Perhaps I can least I can afford mum the respect to exercise what little choice she has left in life? Then again, I may have totally got it wrong ....... :(

Karen, x