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What should I be giving mum to eat?

SaraTee

New member
May 29, 2020
7
Please advise me!

Mum seems to be declining more quickly than I expected, but then, I don’t know why I expected anything. Mum never agreed to tests, we have no proper diagnosis, and therefore, I don’t know what type of dementia she has, or what the progression is likely to be.

Here’s the situation. She’s struggling with vocabulary now, she knows that she knows me, but can’t believe I’m her daughter. She can’t even make herself a coffee and is totally reliant on me and my husband for most things. Her memory span is less than a minute, as far as conversation goes. She gets very cross very easily and over very little, but usually, it's soon forgotten. She lives alone but in the next village to me, with her little dog (who is very patient, and very fat ...)

Here is the question. For the last few weeks, most food we give her seems to make her cough, even cereal softened in milk. This isn’t all the time, sometimes she manages better than others, but even scrambled egg can sometimes set her off. She can manage soup – but if it’s a bit too warm, that can make her cough too. Yesterday was a wake-up call for me, as I gave her some lasagne with most of the pasta taken out so as not to overface her and the coughing fit ended in her retching into the dog bowl until the coughing subsided - sorry for th detail, but I thought the severity of the reaction was relevant. Is this the dementia affecting her ability to swallow? Is it something else? And, what can I give her to eat? Should I persevere or just resort to soups? She used to love yogurts, but now looks you as if you have lost your mind if you offer one and claims she NEVER liked those. If I stick to soups, how long before she gets totally bored of those? How boring must it be to only eat soft food? What would you do?

Please tell me what you think. Also, she’s 87 and has chronic kidney disease, I don’t know if this is having any effect on the situation and getting information from doctors is very difficult, I feel a bit on my own and in the dark.
 

john sherwin

New member
Mar 15, 2020
1
I gave my wife chocolate tea cakes she survive on them, there is no easy answer, anything that is sweet, chocolate eclairs. Just keep trying, until you find something she likes.
 

Bunpoots

Volunteer Host
Apr 1, 2016
4,596
Nottinghamshire
Hi @SaraTee

Dementia can affect the swallow and this is probably what’s happening with your mum. Contact her GP and explain the situation and ask for a referral to the SALT team who should be able to check what’s happening and advise on the correct diet for your mum. In the meantime stick to soft and mashed food.
 

Duggies-girl

Registered User
Sep 6, 2017
1,927
Dad lived on scrambled egg that I used to mash with enough butter and double cream so that it was almost liquid. I had to watch the salt and pepper though as he would add far too much which made him cough.
 

SaraTee

New member
May 29, 2020
7
Thank you all - Bunpoots, what is SALT? (She has been prescribed something called Ensure by the renal team, it's like a concentrated milk shake/protein/vitamin drink). For a while she did seem happy with just cakes and sweet things, but then we realised the dog was getting half of everying and his size just ballooned. So we still get her cakes, but monitor the number ... she forgets how many she has already had, so the worry about giving her a boxful is that she will either a) eat the lot or b) kill the dog .... I know there is no easy answer, but it's intersting to hear that some of you think it is the dementia causing the difficulty. And there's no way we can extract the dog from the situation, he is her reason for getting up in the morning - another reason for looking after him too!
 

Izzy

Volunteer Moderator
Aug 31, 2003
62,296
69
Dundee
Just sticking my nose in here @SaraTee and @Bunpoots - sorry!

SALT is Speech and Language Therapist/Therapy.

My husband was referred to the SALT team when he became in danger of choking on food due to his increasing difficulty with swallowing. They were very helpful. We were referred by the GP.
 

Sirena

Registered User
Feb 27, 2018
2,238
The SALT team are NHS Speech and Language Therapists, they help with swallowing problems, and advise on the right type of foods. It sounds as if your mother would benefit from a referral.

In the meantime as she still likes sweet things, could you limit her access to cake and other sweet foods by only taking the 'right' amount round each day, and sitting with her while she eats to ensure the dog doesn't get it? Other options are the creamy one-portion desserts you find in supermarkets - chocolate mousse, creme caramel etc.
 

Louise7

Registered User
Mar 25, 2016
2,247
SALT is the Speech & Language Therapy team. They are experienced in looking at eating/swallowing problems and will be able to assess your mum to ensure that she has the right diet to help minimise any choking risks. The Ensure drink will help your mum to get more nutrients but it will not resolve the coughing/choking problem. Stopping the cakes in the meantime would be a good idea - maybe replace them with something soft, like ice cream, yoghurt or mousses instead?
 

SaraTee

New member
May 29, 2020
7
Just sticking my nose in here @SaraTee and @Bunpoots - sorry!

SALT is Speech and Language Therapist/Therapy.

My husband was referred to the SALT team when he became in danger of choking on food due to his increasing difficulty with swallowing. They were very helpful. We were referred by the GP.
Thank you, Izzy, how does speech and language help with swallowing? And will the GP help even though mum hasn't had an 'official' diagnosis?