My Grandma has dementia, and won't eat

Discussion in 'I care for a person with dementia' started by lou1991, Jan 20, 2016.

  1. lou1991

    lou1991 Registered User

    Jan 20, 2016
    4
    My Grandma is 77 years old and has dementia. While capable of daily activities such as washing, showering and dressing, she chooses not to.

    For the past few months she has stopped eating. She claims it makes her sick, and often stands over the sink wretching, forcing herself to be sick. She has many pills a day (roughly 6 in the morning and 5 in the evening) and when she has them, she does the same. She says she cannot take them and tries to make herself throw up. Most of the time, nothing comes of this but she states she is often physically sick when home alone.

    We go in nearly every day to see her, and have nurses going in the morning and evening to help her take her pills. We receive calls every time they attend to say she won't take her pills, won't eat. We are all very concerned that she isn't taking in enough nutrients, and that it could be making her more sick (if this is even possible).

    I went to see her with my friend roughly a fortnight ago, and when offered a drink she said "do what you need to and leave me to die".

    Recently, we admitted my Grandma to hospital as she was becoming very aggressive (shouting at my dad when he is asking her to eat, becoming very easily annoyed) and was refusing to drink water too. The doctors put this down to low potassium levels, and she was put on a drip for two days. After this, she was her normal self again. She couldn't remember being sick, couldn't remember ever shouting at anyone and was very upset to hear how she had been for the past few weeks.

    This lasted about 2 days, and as soon as she got home she was immediately back into her old ways. She wouldn't eat again, wouldn't take her pills and - to put it simply - didn't care about anything.

    My Grandma has always been a very glamorous woman, who takes massive pride in her appearance and seeing her this was is completely heartbreaking. She doesn't wash her hair anymore unless we do it for her, and often sits staring into space.

    Has anyon experienced anything similar and if so, how do you tackle the whole "not eating" situation? I have read countless forums about patients with dementia not eating, and I'm still very concerned she will become more ill as a result of this.
     
  2. CeliaThePoet

    CeliaThePoet Registered User

    Dec 7, 2013
    614
    Buffalo, NY, USA
    Sit and eat with her. Much of the pleasure of eating is in the social aspect. Put simple food on red plates. It also sounds like she could be dehydrated, which has a very bad effect. There are medications which stimulate appetite, but it rather sounds as if she is finding coping on her own overwhelming and depressing. Can she go to a lunch club, senior center? Is she really able to cook, wash herself, do things around the house? Can you tell if her mouth is sore? Teeth okay? Does she gag or cough when eating?
     
  3. lou1991

    lou1991 Registered User

    Jan 20, 2016
    4

    I do often sit with her, and bring her favourite foods but she refuses to eat them. She says "I promise I will have it later" but never does. May I ask, is there a reason you specifically state red plates? We tried a senior club which she hated, she could cook and wash for herself but chooses not to (but she is physically capable of it). She has a friend/neighbour come to clean each week who sits with her too which she enjoys, but she won't eat with her either. She gags a lot and coughs constantly, however she has quite bad asthma and has suffered many chest infections particularly over the last few years.
     
  4. Beate

    Beate Registered User

    May 21, 2014
    11,746
    Female
    London
    #4 Beate, Jan 20, 2016
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2016
    Ask her doctor for a SALT (speech and language therapy) referral. These guys deal with eating, drinking and swallowing problems. A medication review might be good too. With so many pills to take, maybe one or a combination of them makes her feel sick when trying to eat. Also, she doesn't "choose" not to do something - it's the disease keeping her from understanding the importance of it.
     
  5. lou1991

    lou1991 Registered User

    Jan 20, 2016
    4
    Thanks for your advice, we will definitely do this. It's so hard to come to terms with her not being able to do these things anymore - she has always been really independent and her attitude towards everything is as though she is not doing these things by choice, but you're definitely right.
     
  6. CeliaThePoet

    CeliaThePoet Registered User

    Dec 7, 2013
    614
    Buffalo, NY, USA
  7. Tashaddd

    Tashaddd Registered User

    Jan 20, 2016
    2
    Hi my grandad has had issues like this and it came down to him having an infection and being dehydrated. She may need a blood test or a urinalysis. I hope things improve : )
     
  8. lou1991

    lou1991 Registered User

    Jan 20, 2016
    4
    Oh okay thanks! She has just been fo a blood test a couple of days ago, she had one a few weeks back and the doctor picked up on the potassium levels but did nothing about it - it was only at hospital that they gave her the drip. Thanks for your advice :) Hope your Grandad is okay!
     
  9. brenden

    brenden Registered User

    Sep 3, 2016
    1
    Canada
    #9 brenden, Sep 3, 2016
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 3, 2016
    I understand you

    I've been through such a situation somewhat 3 or 4 months ago. Handling the office work, kids, household chores and a dementia affected 79 years old mum was not an easy task for me at all. Usually, my day starts with her scream and aggression when I take food to her room and sometimes refuses to drink water too. Sometimes her stubborn behaviour is juz intolerable. Then I had to hire an in-home caregiver for her from Edit: name of care provider removed Sometimes I can't believe seeing how the caregiver handles mum calmly and she obeys her as well. The best part is, after appointing the nanny, my mum is on her perfect diet now, that is the most relieving part.
     
  10. AlsoConfused

    AlsoConfused Registered User

    Sep 17, 2010
    1,953
    Might your grandma be suffering from clinical depression, do you think? If her GP can talk to the family (patient confidentiality can be a problem), maybe he / she could advise on whether that's a possibility and how to get help for your grandma?
     
  11. Jessbow

    Jessbow Registered User

    Is there anything she absolutely couldn't resist? A cream cake, an individual trifle, something savoury?

    Mum went through phases of not wanting to be was helpless to resist Grated cheese sandwich, crust removed , and cut into mouth sizes pieces. had to be GRATED cheese. Oh and jelly.

    Not many foods are red, so a red plate provides a good contrast between food and plate,especially when sight might be failing
     

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.