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My wife seems to have forgotten how to eat

Thursdayschild

Registered User
Jul 27, 2014
10
London
Hi. I need some advice. My OH has young onset Alzheimer's - been going on for 10 years (plus) but she is now pretty advanced and in a care home. She is 68 soon. She has done well in the home but she is now really refusing to eat. She can swallow OK but cannot work cutlery. and very firmly refuses to be fed, in fact gets a bit aggressive if we push feeding her. We have tried everything, like sugar and cream in soup and that worked for a little while but not now.The nutritionist has given her fortified drinks and I buy smoothies but that is it. Pureed food is a no no. It seems that she feels no hunger or thirst and does not recognise food. She paces a lot. Her weight is acceptable but she is slowly shedding the pounds. Feeding cups and special cutlery did not work. My poor OH has little speech and does not recognise me so I have no special powers, but do go in very often to support staff.

Any ideas? What can I do if she just won't eat? Is this one of Alzheimer's nasty tricks. Is nature sort of taking its course. It is very upsetting as surely at some level she must be hungry. What to do? Any advice most welcome.
 

Bolo

New member
Oct 5, 2017
9
I can imagine this is terribly upsetting. I don‘t have experience that is comparable but I look after my mother who has vascular dementia and there are times she won’t eat. No amount of cajoling will work. The GP informed me this is a natural progression of the disease and amazingly, people with dementia seem to cope with very small amounts of food. Is there any favourite food your partner particularly likes that would tempt her to have a few mouthfuls? Would simple finger food that does not require cutlery work?
 

canary

Registered User
Feb 25, 2014
12,170
South coast
At the end, people with dementias bodies are slowly closing down, over days, weeks and sometimes even months, so the feelings of hunger diminish. Eventually they stop eating and drinking entirely because the body cannot process it and they lose their swallow reflex.

There are often rallies though. On three occassions my mum stopped eating and drinking and I was told that we were looking at the end, then she just started eating again! Keep offering food and drink (yoghurt is often accepted), but please dont fret if she refuses - it is the natural progression.
 

Lesleymary

New member
Feb 14, 2019
3
I think this is the most upsetting part of the dementia journey. I have nursed many people with dementia and not wanting to eat is in the latter stages of the journey for most sufferers. We have a natural need to see our loved ones eating and we try our utmost best to tempt them as you are doing. Some people rally round at times which gives us hope but truthfully I would say not to push too much as it causes you and your LO more unnecessary stress and upset. Ice lollies have been quite soothing for some people.
 

Sirena

Registered User
Feb 27, 2018
2,199
I agree with trying finger food. After my mother broke her hip she stopped eating, and was existing on smoothies and fortified drinks, but the carers identified that she had forgotten how to use cutlery. They provided food which could be eaten with her fingers, and she started eating again. Cake is particularly popular.
 

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