1. maggier

    maggier Registered User

    Jan 9, 2006
    Hi everyone.

    I was just wondering, mum won't eat anything and has eaten very little opver the past few weeks. I cannot remember the last proper meal mum had. She has breakfast cereals in the morning and sometime sshe eats it sometimes she doesn't, then she mayhave a pastie or a sandwich or a sausage roll at lunchtime. Most days this is in the bin when I get there again at tea time.

    Every night now we have to have words because mum refuses point blank to let me make her something to eat. She says she will do it herself when she is ready as she is not hungry.

    a) she is not capable of "doing it herself"
    b) I know she just is not interested in food at all.

    She does not particularly look like she is losing weight or anything and physically is as strong as an ox, but I wonder how long she can go on not eating properl;y.

    She eats sweets like a child and will eat crisps and biscuits non stop, (which is probably why she won't eat proper meals) but we have only just started getting her sweets in and she had decided before this that she would not eat anything proper. If I take her a meal round she says things like "it smells funny (usually if I have done her a sald with boiled egg on it) or if I do her a proper dinner with meat and veg, she just pushes it up the table and says "it'snot a patch on mine". and then proceeds to ask me what I do to her meals to make them so bad .

    Now don't get me wrong, I don't profess to be Delia Smith but my own family have not starved and I have 2 strapping 6 footers for sons so I must have done something right in the cooking stakes.

    I am now getting really worried about her but if I mention the word Dr , or Carers she goes absolutely mad and shouts and gets really angry and she would actually barricade herself in before she would let anyone in her house.

    Please can anyone advise me what to do!

    Maggie x
  2. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    Hi Maggie

    This seems to be one of the patterns that happens and, in truth, there was never much I could find to do about it. Their body is not telling them it is hungry, their sense of smell may be playing tricks, their memory does not tell them they have just had some sweets, or a meal, or whatever.

    Main point is that it has nothing to do with the quality of the cooking!

    They will go off things they have loved all their lives, they will change from liking sweet to liking sour, from crisps to toast, etc. Also, they won't do anything at all if on their own.

    It may not be anything to do with the food at all. It may be that they have forgotten which piece of cutlery to use for what, and they don't want to show that to others. So "the food smells funny" is a good excuse not to need to pick cutlery up.

    Think laterally, not literally.

    Try things - anything really. If they like something, then just go with that. If not, keep searching. If nothing works, try Ensure.

    If someone says "let's eat together" then they may try that.

    It's like a puzzle really......
  3. Helena

    Helena Registered User

    May 24, 2006
    I am told by others that even non demented elderly parents tend to only eat sweets/cakes/biscuits in preference to more nourishing foods
  4. Brucie

    Brucie Registered User

    Jan 31, 2004
    near London
    Heck, even non demented carers may prefer to eat such things - me, for instance! I'd always eat a fresh cream gateau in preference to what others might think of as nourishing.

    Most likely, the point is that nourishing means different things to different people.

    Now I can know that I'd be better off eating a nice piece of dover sole, but I might opt for a doughnut instead. Someone with dementia may just not know that, and since they seem to lose a normal sense of taste quite often, they are not really in a position to choose 'rationally'. And of course it just draws their own attention to their health problems when someone points these things out. While I might say "so what? I eat what I fancy", they may feel they are being got at.
  5. dmc

    dmc Registered User

    Mar 13, 2006

    i was listening to a story on radio 4 yesterday and the husband had AD his wife was saying that he always hated her chocolate macaroons she used to make since his AD he loves them and she has to make batches for him there were also a few other foods which he now loves but have never eaten before.
  6. Grannie G

    Grannie G Volunteer Moderator

    Apr 3, 2006

    My grandmother was in her late 80`s when she was admitted to hospital suffering from malnutrition.

    We shopped for her and visited nearly every day. She had no AD, no Dementia, was just an old lady, living in Warden Patrolled Sheltered Accommodation.

    As she got older, she began to need less and less shopping, but always wanted us to get biscuits and a few sweets, for her, when we shopped.

    We were so ashamed and embarrassed when she developed malnutrition, so when she was discharged, we took it in turns to take her a cooked meal every day.

    Although she was grateful, she kept complaining we made too big a meal for her, even though we thought we were giving her small portions.

    So this is what happens with age. With the addition of AD or VD, loss of taste or smell, less fresh air and exercise, loss of appetite is just one more thing to worry about.

    We can only do our best.

    Take heart, Grannie G
  7. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    Do you have district nurses who bring nutri-drinks? My mother was relying too much on them, when suddenly they decided she was "better" and stopped coming.

    She was mostly eating squishy food, (partly because we couldn't get her to a dentist to get new dentures), bread-and-milk, porridge, soups with grated cheese, scrambled eggs, mashed potato, mushy peas, ice cream, yogurt, fruit chopped very small, but then gave up altogether.
  8. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    We tried smuggling Complan into things, and Build-Up (you can get various flavours, sweet or savoury), but she said they were "yuck".
  9. Norman

    Norman Registered User

    Oct 9, 2003
    Birmingham Hades
    I have been through this not eating with Peg.
    Our GP said don't worry ,she will eat when she is ready,she did.
    Our consultant's explanation of why they eat cakes,sweeties biscuits etc,is that is because these items have a sharper more pronounced taste than bland food.
  10. jenniferpa

    jenniferpa Volunteer Moderator

    Jun 27, 2006
    My mother will eat sweet stuff instead of nutritious stuff every time - as someone else said, I think it's to do with flavour strength. The other thing that puts my Mother off eating is portion size. If there's more than 3 mouthfuls of anything on her plate, she can't face it, so even when you say "small portions" they might simply be still too large. Mummy will drink cream soups from a cup, and the nutrishake things, plus milk to drink ( a LOT of milk). The other thing to remember is that the elderly require many fewer calories than before, particularly if they are sedentary, although in an ideal world those calories should be from "good" food rather than junk. Having said that, though, when you're 89 and have dementia, provided there some level of protein going in, plus possibly a multi-vitamin tablet, I don't stress over it unduly - there are few pleasures left in this situation.

  11. icare2

    icare2 Registered User

    Jun 18, 2006
    yogurt helps get a stomache lining

    Hello,I also went through the non eating pattern that the dreaded AD produces,we tried the vitamin muti-juices and others,but now thankfully my wife takes about two normal tea cup sizes of most fruit yogurt,and I also add a touch of milk to thin it down,so it can be sipped,hope this helps..
  12. willemm

    willemm Registered User

    Sep 20, 2006
    I can't say that I had this problem with my wife so don't feel qualified to give any answers. I think I agree that taste is very important, as is appearance, aroma and presentation.
    Until going into a home she was able to feed herself, because I cut everything up into small pieces about the size of a butter bean, but kept portions together (a piece of bacon or turkey-burger would be cut up but kept to look like bacon or turkey-burger or potatoes, or whatever). This meant she could use knife, and/or fork or spoon according to how she was on the day. Meat or chicken (mostly as stir-fries) would be diced small, with herbs to lightly season and add aroma. Sweets almost invariably tinned fruit with a tasty yoghurt on top. Servings of all would be fairly small.
    This all changed when admitted to a home. Their food was OK, but she noticed the difference, often stodgy, heavy, not always attractive looking, and often difficult to pick up, but I guess you have to allow that homes have their own problems when it comes to feeding all sorts of variable diets, likes, dislikes and disabilities.
    At the end of the day, at home, you do have to go along with what seems to suit the patient best, as long as they eat something.
    This may not help Maggie, but may be of interest to others having feeding problems.
    As always, no easy answers.
  13. Cate

    Cate Registered User

    Jul 2, 2006
    Newport, Gwent

    Brucie made a very good point on the 'eating together'. Before mum went into the NH she lived on cake, biscuits etc. etc. even though she had meals on wheels.

    My brother used to go in to make sure she had breakfast, mostly she would make herself toast, then forget to eat it. She didn't like it cold, so would have cake. She would forget the MoW was in the fridge, and have cake etc. However, when she came to us for a meal, she would eat everything put in front of her.

    Since living in the NH, she eats 3 good meals a day, and snacks in between and I'm sure a lot of it is to do with the company. Because we were all worried about her weight loss it became a focus, and food became an issue. Now good tasty food is put in front of her, conversation takes place around the table, and bingo, cleared plates. I'm pleased to say in 2 1/2 months mum has gained 2kg. Fantastic.

    So just maybe more meals with company, and less 'focus' on food may do the trick.

  14. Windfall

    Windfall Registered User

    Oct 18, 2005
    Not eating - how long does it go on for?

    Mum hasn't eaten properly for over a year...she is losing weight too, gone down 4 dress sizes in the last year.

    Physically she seems to be quite fit, all her tests results are coming back fine (she's on a AD drugs trial at the moment so gets a very regular medical MOT) but we are all a wondering just how long she can can keep going. She does have breakfast cereal every day and then seems to get by on fresh air and one or two biscuits. She's never had a big appetite, has always preferred sweet to savory and loved to eat chocolates and sweets, but now she's not even bothered about those....the chocolates I bought for her birthday last month are still in the fridge. Her partner is finding it very, very difficult and we have to encourage him to keep eating as he feels pretty grotty having to eat in front of her.

    What an awful disease this is....things that you wouldn't have even considered cause so many problems....it's all hard...as in an earlier post even choosing a birthday card reduces me to tears. I'm crying now typing this..probably why I don't post very often....although I do lurk every day...oh well, don't quite know where that came from..but I'm sure you'll understand.
  15. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    Hiya Sharon,
    Tears are OK - I think that by sharing on here, it helps to get the emotion out of the way, so that we can go on caring and supporting.
    Would mum have fortified drinks, or milky drinks - anything to try and keep up the calorific intake?
    It is so hard, and I think that we get worn down too as we have to helplessly watch the changes occurring. All we can do is make the most of the situation that we are in- look for the good bits, and enjoy the time that we still have to share.
    Lurk or post, whichever you want - but it's good to know that you are in this with us.
    Love Helen
  16. Windfall

    Windfall Registered User

    Oct 18, 2005
    Build-up drinks

    Hi Helen,

    Thanks for your support.

    Alf, (my common-law step father) has had a dietician out to mum and he has a host of 'complan' type drinks for her. However, she can spot them a mile off and refuses to have anything to do with them, he tried using it in the milk she puts on her breakfast but all that happened was that she refused her breakfast.

    In some ways her behaviour is becoming more and more like a small child. I suppose this is the normal regression?

    My daughter (10 years old) is fantastic with her Nan, and when she spends time with her grandchildren glimpses of the old mum come through. But it has been very hard watching my daughter grapple with the fact that it is possible that her nanna may not always recognise her.

    Does that happen to everybody? I mean do all AD victims lose all memory or do some people make it to the end with some memory/recognition in place?

    Hope that's not too morbid a question...but it's the one i can't help asking myself...along with what will happen next?
  17. Amy

    Amy Registered User

    Jan 4, 2006
    Hiya Sharon,
    I can't answer your question, but my mum, although she didn't recognise her grandchildren, retained a tenderness towards them. Try and reassure your daughter that though there may come a time when Nan doesn't recognise her, she will still be Nan, and still be a very special person to all of you. I think our kids learn how to deal with dementia from us - if you are not afraid of when mum may not recognise you, your daughter won't be. It is OK - if your mum does reach that stage, you will still love her, you will still have a relationship. My mum is very advanced in her dementia - but occasionally a smile, or an attempt at a wink, lets me know that she is still mum, and always will be. She may not know me, but I know her.
    It's not morbid to want to know what will happen next - I needed to know, so that I could prepare myself.
    Love Helen
  18. Lila13

    Lila13 Registered User

    Feb 24, 2006
    That was one of the things my mother did too, slowly starving herself over more than a year. I got the blame when she was hospitalised last October, as the main things wrong with her were malnutrition and dehydration.

    Sometimes we managed to persuade her to build herself up, and sometimes the nurses managed to get her to take nutri-drinks.

    The care manager had told the carers to make her a thermos of tea and leave a glass of water beside her but it was no use, she wouldn't have the thermos in the house and poured the water straight down the sink, and she "sacked" the care manager. You can lead a horse, or other animal, to water but ...

    But in the end I think she just chose to give up, and it really was very difficult eating with her, while she just messed her food around and put it in the bin.
  19. Windfall

    Windfall Registered User

    Oct 18, 2005
    Helen said:

    if you are not afraid of when mum may not recognise you, your daughter won't be.

    It's not that I'm afraid of that, I've already seen it...last year we hit our first crisis when Alf (mum's partner) couldn't cope and I had her to stay for a week..she had a UTI and got very confused it was very sad to see her struggling to work out who I was. I know that my daughter will be fine, and as for my son (aged 7) well most things bounce happily off him. I suppose it's more that once she fails to recognise us I will have to really acknowledge that 'she's gone', at the moment she still functions at a reasonable level and it is possible to have a very superficial conversation with her...as I now only see her once a month (we've moved her into a wonderful new place near my brother's home in Swindon - I've talked about it before and am more than happy to tell anyone all about it, it's run by the Methodist Homes and is a number of privately owned flats so that people with dementia and their carers can stay together, it is wholly supported by the neighbouring care home and has a care manager on site 24/7) I s'pose I can kid myself that actually she's not too bad.....she's also taking part in a new drugs trial which looks very promising from it's previous trial...so I can even kid myself she's getting better.

    Oh dear, I seem to be rambling again and am quickly turning from a lurker to a hyjacker of threads. :)
  20. DeborahBlythe

    DeborahBlythe Registered User

    Dec 1, 2006
    #20 DeborahBlythe, Jan 5, 2007
    Last edited: Jan 5, 2007
    Hello Sharon,

    My mum stared refusing food about a year ago . She had a couple of UTI's in quick succession and that was the beginning of what was a very clear downward turn, losing mobility and any interest in food.

    All through the year I tried to make sure that wherever she found herself, the people responsible for her care kept her well fed, if possible, and properly hydrated, but it was/is a tremendous uphill struggle. When she was in hospital I took in flasks of chicken soup most days (the only thing she seemed to enjoy) and other bits and pieces because the hospital food was pretty grim or else often just left by the bed, (by the staff). It didn't help that her dentures went missing in hospital :eek: :eek: :mad: and it took about six weeks to get a new denture made for her. In the care homes I try to ensure that the care plans state that my mum should be helped to eat, and that dietician's recommendations should be followed.

    We got a supplement called Calogen prescribed, which she is given four times a day, (she doesn't like Ensure because it is too sweet.) There are savoury ones, but I have been told twice now by NHS dieticians that the best supplements are Build Up soups. Unfortunately, these aren't available on the NHS and I don't think they are wonderfully tasty, but might be worth trying from time to time. They are available at Boots and other chemists at 69p a packet..

    Both dieticians who saw my mother said that the trick is to give the resident something to eat in small amounts and often. The day the second dietician visited, ( and she gets my vote for favourite support-giver last year) my mum had just had her dinner and was quite uncomfortable, needing to be given personal care. So she didn't really want to sit around being questioned by the dietician. Nevertheless, what she did say was helpful. " Why haven't I had any dinner?They are starving me!! I WANT TO LIVE!" I don't fully believe the first two statements, but the last was incontrovertible, and the dietician was spurred by it to do her utmost, I think. Anyway, we both gave each other thumbs up and the dietician drew up a list of recommendations for the home which included running through their month's menus and suggesting alternative soft options (not pureed) which might appeal to my mum, recomending Build Up soups to be offered between meals and when awake, at night. She also recommended quiet company for my mum and food to be fortified. " Double cream, I think. I know how these places like to cut corners!"

    The dietician asked my mum if she liked milk but my mum refused to answer. I thought she hadn't heard her. Some hours later however, after she had been made comfortable and was in bed chatting, she suddenly said, quite out of the blue, " I'd like some milk. WHY HAVE I NEVE BEEN OFFERED ANY MILK? Warmed millk please!" ( She stills prefers tea, which I firmly believe is the elixir of her life as she never refuses a cup, but warmed milks makes a nice alternative.)

    Although my mum has really really lost a huge amount of weight, to my amazement she is now maintaining weight and apparently beginning to put a little back on. Yesterday I sat with her at lunchtime and she ate all the dinner on her plate, by herself and with, if not enjoyment, clearly a decided appetite. She actually enjoyed her dessert too, banana custard. I can't tell you how amazed I am by all this. I have crawled up the wall with distress and frustration seeing her lose weight, refuse food, and appear to have given up on life. Her choice, I suppose, but really appalling to behold, and is it really a choice to give up, or just the lack of strength and confusion which sets in with progressive refusals? I never underestimate the physiological and psychological effect on me when I have not eaten properly, (in short, I get very ratty) so I am amazed that she continues to sustain any life and personality and even more amazed that the dreaded 'anorexia' or whatever you would call it, seems seems to have backed off.

    Maybe it won't last. I don't know. But it is no longer, at the moment, the huge worry that is had been all last year for me. After lunch she sat in a quiet room before returning upstairs for her afternoon nap. She seemed very composed and 'ordinary'.

    Another thing that seems to work is a small amount of social conversation going on around her. Something that may catch her interest a little and make her forget that there is a meal to be eaten.

    I know she is not going to get back her old weight and mobility, things have gone too far (but in fact, after that lunch yesterday, she was trying to move herself, presumably fuelled by a good cargo of nutriment, and she wanted to get out of her chair and onto her bed by herself. I even wondered whether we should be thinking again about physio for her, she seemed so different with a meal inside her.) I can't explain why the lack of appetite for almost a year has now almost disappeared. And I don't know if this is helpful, but just thought you might like to know that perseverence MAY pay off if you are lucky.

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