1. Q&A: Looking after yourself as a carer - Friday 25 January, 3-4pm

    As a carer for a person living with dementia, the needs of that person will often come before your own, and this can mean that you don't always look after yourself.

    However, it's important for both you and the person you care for. But how do you do that properly?

    Our next expert Q&A will be on looking after yourself as a carer. It will be hosted by Angelo from our Knowledge Services team, who focuses on wellbeing. He'll be answering your questions on Friday 25 January between 3-4pm.

    You can either post questions >here< or email them to us at talkingpoint@alzheimers.org.uk and we'll answer as many as we can on the day.

Signs of stopping eating

Discussion in 'Health and wellbeing' started by Theresalwaystomorrow, Aug 6, 2018.

  1. Theresalwaystomorrow

    Theresalwaystomorrow Registered User

    Dec 23, 2017
    What experience has other members had when pwd stops eating?
    Can it be sudden from one day to next?
  2. Tin

    Tin Registered User

    May 18, 2014
    My mother's appetite goes up and down, some days she just picks at things then pushes the plate away. Usually we get back to normal after a few days, main meal at lunch time and just a snack of something in the evening. One thing for sure, she is not eating as much as she used to this time last year.
  3. DeeBee40

    DeeBee40 New member

    Aug 5, 2018
    My mum's food issues developed gradually but then escalated rapidly leading to huge weight loss. We struggled for months trying to get her eating which was distressing for us all. Thankfully things have improved as we have been learning strategies to help.

    We realised mum can't recognise hunger or thirst anymore. She'll complain of stomach or throat pains but won't associate it with hunger or thirst.

    When asked if she wanted food or drink mum would inevitably reply no which in her mind was truth. Even mention of old favourites wouldn't tempt her.

    But we found if we skipped discussion and just prepared meals she would usually accept food placed in front of her. We kept portion sizes small so she didn't overwhelmed by amount of food.

    Mum also is much happier if we are all eating. She resented feeling we were trying to 'make her eat' or reminders she needed to gain weight. But accepted meals together as family.

    Part of mum's refusal to eat was caused by fear as she constantly complained of choking sensations. It limited foods she was willing to eat. She ruled out anything crunchy or crumbly she thought was choking risk.

    Mum's had every test available in last 6 months & digestive system examined from top to bottom. Everything got all clear which is great - except for secret hope they'll find something easily treated leadinv to huge improvement.

    Consultant says muscles used to swallow & chew are likely gradually weakening and she's producing less saliva. Which all contributes to her difficulty with eating.

    We avoid foods mum may choke on and stick with those that are easier to chew or prepared in smaller pieces. As she produces less saliva it really helps if meals come with a sauce or gravy.

    Mum's preferences have changed a lot as she definitely has weaker sense of taste. Flavours (sweet or spicy) just have to be stronger to tempt her. She was never a particular fan of curries but I now make chicken curry several times a week as she always finishes every bite.

    We're lucky that we can be at home with mum at mealtimes. If left to her own devices she wouldn't see any need to eat. Even while supported to eat regularly she will struggle to remember when she last ate.

    Her weight loss has halted and she's maintaining weight hovering at borderline of whats healthy for her. We were recommended nutrition milkshakes. Thankfully mum likes them and has 1 a day as her 'afternoon snack'.

    It's obviously dangerous to get me started off on food topic. I hope you can find some helpful points in my ramble!
  4. Kevinl

    Kevinl Registered User

    Aug 24, 2013
    Eating can be a bit of a yo-yo, today I gave up at tea time half way through feeding my wife, she either spat it out or stopped chewing some days that happens. The nursing home records all the food people eat, how much and how often down to the last biscuit and today she had all her breakfast and lunch so I'm not too bothered, normally she eats everything.
    Another lady in there is much harder to deal with, if you try and get her to eat and she says "no" then give up as once she's said no she won't eat, put a plate of food in front of her, tell her it's "there in case you get hungry" then walk away and 90% of the time she'll eat it, put her under pressure or in the dining room and 90% of the time she'll refuse.
    Whether she doesn't like eating with other people or being pressurised I don't know, but left alone she eats make an issue of it and when she says no nothing will change her mind, at best she'll keep refusing at worse she'll throw the food back at you or across the room.
    DeeBee's right about liquids it usually takes about a litre of juice to get my wife to eat a meal, she has been seen by the SALT team recently over her swallowing issues and it's "wet" food only and even a sandwich is classed as a dry food because it needs saliva to swallow.
    Like anything else it has to be managed, you can fight a battle but you're going to lose the war to AZ so I give options, if she doesn't want to eat then OK missing a meal won't kill her and tomorrow she'll eat more to make up for it.
    Long term fortified drinks are used a lot for people who don't want to eat but will have a cold, milk based protein drink, it bungs a few calories into them.
  5. Duggies-girl

    Duggies-girl Registered User

    Sep 6, 2017
    My dad will not eat unless I put it on the plate for him. I no longer ask him what or whether he would like to eat, I just do it for him.

    Breakfast time I give dad his ensure which he drinks and half an hour later I make him a scrambled egg with butter and cream. I give it to him on a tray and he always says he is not hungry and can only eat one bite. I just say that's fine 'one bite will do' He always finishes it all. Tea time I will sometimes give him cold soup in a glass disguised as a drink and he drinks it or I may do him the tiniest shepherds pie served on a saucer with a bit of gravy, same story 'I can't eat all of that' but he does.

    As long as it is very small he will eat it but I have given up with the coaxing and cajoling as it is very wearing and as long as he eats something I am happy. I have accepted that he is never going to eat normally again.

    What is worrying though is that he has stopped drinking the ensure. He would get through on average eight shakes a day but he has now decided that they are a bit sickly and is only drinking three or four a day now. These are what have been providing him with calories up until now.

    I am substituting with decent ice cream topped up with some more cream on top as that always goes down well.

    His cholesterol will not be good but I don't know what else to do, I can't allow him to starve. As far as I am concerned any calorie is a good calorie at the moment and if he eats it then he can have it.
  6. DeeBee40

    DeeBee40 New member

    Aug 5, 2018

    What size ensure has your dad been taking @Duggies-girl ? If it's regular size you could try switching to Compact. All same nutritional levels but smaller drinks. If he's already on those maybe trying a different flavour could help?
  7. Szaitisja

    Szaitisja Registered User

    Jul 28, 2018
    Hello. Which ensure is your dad having? My friend has ensure plus and they are about a glass full but i think they're about 300 calories. Trying to find a link to post which ones i mean
  8. DeMartin

    DeMartin Registered User

    Jul 4, 2017
    You could slightly dilute the ensure with soda water, makes it lighter to drink as a lot of the booster drinks are thick.
    Make an ice cream float.
    Some boosters will freeze into a soft scoop consistency.
  9. Duggies-girl

    Duggies-girl Registered User

    Sep 6, 2017
    Ensure plus, he has been on them since Christmas, he has oesohageal cancer as well as dementia so calories are important. He just seems to have gone off them, perhaps it's the weather. I couldn't drink them I think they are disgusting but dad loved them until recently.

    @DeMartin Yes I have diluted them with milk before when he couldn't swallow, I am hoping that it is just the hot weather effecting him.
  10. Szaitisja

    Szaitisja Registered User

    Jul 28, 2018

    I couldn't drink them either. Luckily my friend likes them although it's only on a good day she will have 2, normally it's only one with lots of prompting.
    I think weather might have a bit to do with it also. I always found drinking anything sweet in hot weather was difficult, and Rose is quite happy to drink water sometimes last few days ( normally she will have it only with her tablets). usually for her if it's not sweet she won't have it.
  11. Catkin26

    Catkin26 Registered User

    Mar 3, 2016
    My mum has lost a severe amount of weight, she seems to have no appetite unless its
    chocolate! I guess it depends on each person. Sounds daft but could it be that they just
    forget? i really do not know but my mum is terribly underweight

  12. Francy

    Francy Registered User

    Dec 3, 2018
    Co Down
    This is my latest problem, JH has told me food is sticking in his teeth and he stopped eating regular food, up until now he had a good appetite and ate almost anything, now I really don't know what to give him. The amount of food that ends in the bin is sad and I can see him loosing weight. I am trying soup, mashed potatoes, mashed veg and very thin slices of meat. All meals a preceeded with an argument, also he doesn't want to drink much either as he says he's forever peeing, honestly it's no more than usual. I'm just so tired trying to please him and give him a healthy diet. Every day brings a new problem, I'm so tired and becoming very tearful, how does everyone else cope with all of this? Do I leave him till he's really hungry? I feel I've failed him.
  13. Wishful

    Wishful Registered User

    Nov 28, 2014
    My husband has stopped eating and it's a struggle to get fluids into him. He has been assessed by SALTs and foods have to be mashed (no bread) and drinks have thickener in them. He is unable to feed himself so everything is spoon fed. Saturday he refused both food and drink and yesterday he took liquids. As he's in hospital they are doing the best they can.
  14. Cat27

    Cat27 Volunteer Moderator

    Feb 27, 2015
    I think there comes a point when you have to forget a healthy diet & just let them eat whatever they want. Sweet things tend to be popular.
  15. Susan11

    Susan11 Registered User

    Nov 18, 2018
    Hi Francy, you mustn't feel you've failed him ...not ever. I can tell you have done everything you can for him. Take Care Susan
  16. Linbrusco

    Linbrusco Registered User

    Mar 4, 2013
    Auckland...... New Zealand
    Wishful this is my Mum at the moment. Mums been in care 2.5yrs.
    With losing weight, her false teeth no longer fit and wont wear them but she was eating less and less anyway.
    She’s now refusing all food, soft, mashed, pureed. We’ve tried different flavour Fortasip drinks also but she very rarely finishes a whole bottle, over the course of a day. She drinks a few sips of barley water.
    She cant feed herself but pushes your hand away or turnd her head if you try and feed her.
    Putting any type of food even icecream of custard in front of her, she shows no interest.
    At best over the last week shes eaten 1/2 a banana when we break off a wee bit and put it in her hand.
    Its a worry :eek:
  17. canary

    canary Registered User

    Feb 25, 2014
    South coast
    With dementia you often dont really know what is happening. They may start eating again and bounce back. On the other hand it may be that their body is shutting down and you are looking at end stage. All you can do is offer food and drink, but if they do not want it, then do not feel guilty.
    (((((((((((((((((((((((((((hugs)))))))))))))))))))))))) to all going through this stage.
  18. Ruth1974

    Ruth1974 Registered User

    Dec 26, 2018
    I dont think my o/h feels hunger any more so i have to keep an eye on him
  19. Francy

    Francy Registered User

    Dec 3, 2018
    Co Down
    When I ask my husband what would he like to eat, he says he doesn't know and every suggestion I make is met with no, no, no. Last night I made some chicken and sliced it thinly to make it easier to chew and swallow. He asked what is that and I said chicken, "well I won't be having that" was the answer and he kept lifting potato and flicking it back on to the plate like it was foreign to him and the veg didn't stand a chance. I left him with it and eventually the chicken, most of the potato and some veg were eaten, he also had some yogurt which he said was lovely , I was tempted to say and the rest was rubbish was it, but just said nothing . At least he ate most of it, but each meal is a challenge , no matter what he's given he just looks at it and shakes his head. All of this started just about two weeks ago out of the blue, before that he had a normal healthy appetite. I can see he's losing weight. Not drinking much either, started at the same time. No idea where it came from.
  20. Fullticket

    Fullticket Registered User

    Apr 19, 2016
    Chard, Somerset
    Mum refused food and drink periodically. We found it helped to sit her down with us at the dinner table (fortunately she could manage this) and put a small plate in front of her and leave her to it. Sometimes she ate; sometimes she didn't. She loved a glass of wine so alcohol free options were sucked down with gusto - so no real reason why she would refuse normal fluids. We also found that, as a family, saving our conversation for the dinner table meant that there was no opportunity for her to draw attention to herself by refusing food, spitting it out, commenting that she hated chicken, etc. Well she did it but it was ignored! As time went on it was a case of getting in the calories so if she refused dinner but ate rice pudding, yogurt, etc. that was fine by us. She seemed to survive on virtually nothing for about three years with no bad side effects other than weight loss. I didn't stress about it after the first six months or so.

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