by Francy Dickinson www.seniorcarewithspirit.com
Dear Francy; Mother simply will not eat. She tries, she says she is hungry but I can not get her to eat, or finish her food. Suggestions?
I understand the “I’m not hungry”. I will tell you one of my stories. My mother had gone into the hospital for a short stay and on her arrival home she asked to have a private talk with me. I knew that was not going to be good. She had lived with my husband and I for about 2 years and mother was a quiet lady that did not relish talk.
I entered the room and she said she had enjoyed the use of the menu system for ordering her food at the hospital. She wanted me to set up a “menu system” for her use at home. I was stunned really, not knowing if it was for real – it was for real. Then I just laughed and told her that I remembered when I was little, that if we did not eat the food she prepared we went without food! So, I understand both your feelings of concern and your mom’s appetite problem.
First, add a nutrition drink today. Now, they’re not cheap, but they are one way to add protein no matter how much she eats. I thought I would save money and buy a high end protein powder to add to milk and juices. That did not work, mother did not absorb it into her system. So, I found a low sugar drink that was vanilla flavor and I would just add a little juice, fruit or another flavor to it each day. Key Tip – Keep it cold, it tastes better that way.
Then think back to what you were served when you were young. That old fashioned food may hit the spot for your mother. Remembering Hobo stew, potato soup, split pea soup, au gratin potatoes, casseroles, jello salads,grilled cheese sandwiches, home made biscuits, apple butter, butter milk, etc. Things that today’s cooks tend to not prepared because of high fat or sugar content, that what you want o re-introduce into your mother’s diet. You will find her helping you if you ask her about her favorite meals when you were young. That palette of hers was developed when she was a young person, so take her back to those times with a weekly placement of the older menu of foods. Does not have to be daily, just weekly will do just fine.
Make sure you use plenty of salt and spices. Older people tend to lose their sense of smell and taste. So put a salt shaker on her tray or on her table where she eats, that will help her make things “taste” right.
Don’t be afraid of sugar. Most older people get sugar cravings. My mother wanted her candy and I kept it in a covered candy dish for her at all times. She would have a little in the evenings and I encouraged it. It made her happy, gave her a lift and cost very little to keep her satisfied.
Mom would have a craving, KFC or maybe Chinese food when that happened I would make sure she had those on her table. We did not join her, we just went out and got a nice chicken dinner for her as a treat and she loved it! Mom had to have her hamburgers and my husband would bring them home about once a week for her. He always bought a small fry and she would eat the fry first while it was warm and then have her burger. She would be sooo happy. One less meal for me to make and one happy camper = nice evening.
Change her meals around. Maybe a larger breakfast would work for her. She would have all the food in the morning with her pills for the day and then a small lunch and dinner snack. Maybe almost a dinner type of meal for mid-day and then just a snack for dinner. Adjust her up and exercise schedule to her meals and she may be able to eat them with more gusto.
Give her a choice. This is how I do choices. I look in my refrigerator and I see that we have a small amount of lasagna left over from a couple of nights before (or frozen from the dinner last week) and then our current night’s meal that I am planning to prepare. I would go down to mother and say, “Mom do you want lasagna tonight or would you rather have stir fry with pork?” She would then have a choice and feel like she was making the “menu” decision. I on the other hand was simply stating two meals – one that was already prepared and the other was the night’s dinner. The choice was hers to make, but mine to choose.
Stand-by’s. Mother loved those toasted strudels that you can buy frozen. When it was a bad day, I would pop a strudel into the toaster and make some fresh coffee and she would be pleased with the selection. See if you can find a stand by – that way when you are not feeling well, tired, stressed or just out of it in general, you have a release valve of something easy to prepare that she will eat and enjoy.
If you push all of this away and remember you have stepped up and given your mom a safe haven living place. You are concerned enough to worry over her well being and want the best life she can have at this time for her. You are the one to be praised, you are holding down a whole lot of living and your constant juggeling is noted and appriciated by me and those that love you. Keep caring and keep being kind to yourself and your own needs. Keeping you strong and well centered in your mind, will give your mother a continued good life.
Please come and visit my website and find other ideas for your care giving www.seniorcarewithspirit.com Thank you for your time and questions, francy