My mom is gonna be 81. I would say about 5 years ago she started "turning" into herself. Always wanting to be at home, not wanting company, including her kids. When we would go to see the parents she would watch TV and really not participate in the conversations. If they stopped by my house after a doctors appt, she could not be here longer then 10 to 15 minutes. She would constantly watch the clock, then say we gotta get going! Fast forward: My dad is on hospice, and the hospice nurse said to me, "Your mother cannot be left alone with your dad." (first time someone other than my husband and I seemed to notice how my mom could not pay attention to instructions) Anyway, she was unprepared for my dad's death, acted like she didn't know he was dying. Present time: Mom just sits in front of the TV with her ipad doing jigsaw puzzles. (She has done this for years, it's not new behavior) It seems the only thing she cares about is sweets, pepsi, drumsticks, cookies etc.... She has lost so much weight because she really doesn't eat "real food". I took her a roast, potatoes, carrots and she turned her nose up that! She doesn't like to drive. She can't remember much EXCEPT if it involves her. She gets upset with me if I ask her questions or if I say why did you do this or that. It is like she doesn't want to think or be bothered. And she doesn't want to be wrong or questioned. She can pay her bills, keep track of doctor appt., shower, eat, take down the trash cans on trash pick-up day, water her outside plants, set her alarm, do FB etc... But try to have a conversation with her!!! A Conversation example: Hi mom, what did you do today? "I'm not sure, nothing really. Oh I watered the plants. What did you do?" I'll tell her, then I'll ask what she had for dinner, she can never remember. I try and chit chat, but I know I've lost her, she is no longer paying attention. Soon as I take a breath, she says, "I'm gonna hang up now." She doesn't want to talk, but she wants me to call. Even if I want to talk to her, she doesn't want to listen. She has no friends, doesn't want any friends, doesn't want to socialize with anyone including me! She can't even pretend to be interested in what I have to say. I just don't know what to do any more. She complains about EVERYTHING, I can't do anything right. Yet, I'm the ONLY person besides my husband who is there for her. We take her groceries, take her to doctor appts. My brother doesn't seem to notice anything. It is like she can remember what she wants, and what is not important to her she doesn't remember. Her granddaughter, and great granddaughter came to visit (from across the country) and we went up to see my mom. The first thing she does after greeting them, is go back to her recliner and continue watching TV. She has no patience, she can get to a doctor's appt 30 minutes early, and she thinks she should be called in NOW. Everything should be on HER time. She will start complaining LOUDLY, it is so embarrassing!! Sigh.... Is this dementia or is she just self absorbed? Also, I know she is lonely since my dad passed away, but this behavior started years before he passed. I love my mom, but she has always been impatient and mean/hard, and treated me poorly and it's always been about her. She has never been able to be happy for me or anyone else. I could go on and on............... What do you all think? Is this just her personality magnified due to age or dementia or a combination of both?
The food choices could be part of either depression (self medicating w/sweets) and/or dementia (forgetting or not processing what is healthy to eat). Also, as individuals age their ability to taste foods diminishes so many want highly sweetened or salted foods to actually taste things. My mom literally lived on ice cream and Cheetos, until I worked in some protein (high protein Ensure mixed with ice cream and ice -- like a milkshake -- and got her to eat egg salad sandwiches if it had enough salt and picked relish in it).
She was moved to a nursing home almost 2 years ago (mid stage dementia and basically immobile now), but there the dietitians there have worked on things to stop the weight loss and she is on various Rx for depression, lack of appetite and the host of other conditions.
Good luck with this, this "adventure" is not an easy one. Also, hope you have a POA, advanced directive and other documents (Will) if you need to step in to help decide and direct her care as well as finances. Worth finding a good elder care lawyer to work through some of the paperwork before getting a dementia diagnosis as that can make the paperwork part harder in most states.
She really might not care to chat or engage in small talk by phone or in person. If you are calling to check up on her, you can just confirm that she is vertical and relatively well. Don't plan on a conversation.
Her food choices are not helping her health or sense of well-being. Her doctor might need to be brought in on a discussion about nutrition, but unless she is motivated to improve her eating habits, it will not happen while she is living on her and making her own choices.