Mom, who is 93 and has dementia, is now picking bits and pieces out of her meals. For example, she picks every piece or chicken and every noodle out of chicken noodle soup and leaves it on the side of her plate.....after asking for chicken noodle soup! Foods that she previously devoured and cleaned her plate are now being picked apart. Now, anything of a different texture, ingredients that are recognizable, are picked out and placed on the side. Or she will chew up certain foods and spit them out and leave on her plate. Sometimes entire meals are chewed up and spit back out onto her plate. For my perfect-etiquette Mom, this has become quite concerning, not to mention disturbing. When I ask why she didn't eat (for example) the chicken, she'll say 'I did', or 'I'm full'; neither of which is true, as she will ask for dessert five minutes afterward. We are struggling with this, as we put a lot of effort into asking what she wants to eat, preparing her meals and then having to deal with discarded food on her plates at nearly every meal. It has become almost like an eating disorder that is worsening. Even some of her favorite meals she refuses to eat anymore. She would live on sugar and junk food if we let her- I have tried making milk shakes with Ensure to try and get nutrition into her and she says 'I don't like that.' But she will eat ice cream with hot fudge and sprinkles all day long. Her home health care nurse has not been able to offer suggestions or offer any good advice, other than give her what she wants to eat, even if it is sugar and junk food. HELP!?
Bits that are of a different texture that have to be chewed can confuse her.
You can blend soups so that they are all smooth.
Now for the more difficult part.
You or someone may have to sit with her as she eats and encourage her to chew then swallow what is in her mouth. You may then have to rub the outside of her cheek to feel for any "pocketed" food. There may be a time when food will get packed between her jaw and her cheek. You need to get her to swallow that food or she can choke on it later. (or it begins to breakdown in the mouth if her mouth is not cleaned after eating)
You are also going to have to pay attention to foods that have a thinner consistency. Soup, water, coffee, ice cream, jello, these are some of the foods that can be aspirated. You may have to start thickening thinner foods. Either with a product intended for that or by using vegetables or reducing liquid so thinner foods become thicker.
I switched my Husbands largest meal to the morning when he was more alert and had more energy. By evening he was not able to eat as well. So try different foods at different times of day. Get the meal with more protein into her when she is at her best. That could mean "Dinner" at 7 am.
Lunch is pretty good and then dinner (even though I keep moving up the time), is a slow process.
I've been told that it takes a LOT of energy to eat and chew and they just get tired and don't have the energy - even when we feed them.
Here is an article to give you some basic information about dysphagia (swallowing difficulty)
My two cents maybe try pureed food and see if that might work better??? than the chunks and bits approach.
My dad now has a swallowing problem-discovered at last hospital stay-i had seen him choke on several occasions recently. all food needs to be cut up into small bites. although, He has a good appetite at 95. Mom is always always putting something on his tray, muffins, candy etc. so he at least is not loosing weight.
Your mother must not be as far along in the disease as mine. I no longer ask her what she wants to eat because she never makes a decision. Now I give her two choices: I keep it simple for her. Usually, she does not even make a decision regarding the two items I offer, so I just pick because I know she most likely won't eat the meal anyway. She has lost over 60 pounds since March and is becoming frailer by the minute. She will occasionally drink an Ensure with ice cream added. Most of the time if I ask her is she is hungry, the answer is "No". But, I know that as the disease progresses, the person no longer has the ability to feel hunger. It is quite a dilemma.
Mom does not spit her food out (yet) nor pick it apart and move it around the plate. She just does not eat it or I find chunks of it on the floor under the table after the meal.
Since I never learned how to cook, I tend to sometimes just give in and give Mom the sweets she wants. Yep, I know that is being a bad daughter/caregiver, but sometimes it is the best solution I can come up with.
He used a bowl to spit stuff into as he ate as months went by, it got worse and he was basically just chewing and spitting instead of swallowing his food. He would say he doesn't want to swallow it.
I think with his dementia brain, he thinks the texture is foreign in his mouth and he should spit it out like we do if we feel a piece of bone when eating fish or chicken.
You will have to just go thru and find the most nutritious food that is smooth or dissolves easy enough. The most textured food my Dad will eat is scrambled or boiled eggs cut up, waffles or pancakes, Oatmeal, Soft Fruit Breakfast Bars.
A few months ago he would eat beans if they were soft, now we have to mash them but if he feels the skin from the bean he will spit it out. Potato Salad if the potato is soft and it is plain with no onion, celery or relish for him to fill in his mouth.
He could eat any meat except to chew and spit so I bought Vienna Sausage then had to switch to Baby Food Chicken Sausages with a little bar b q sauce.
He loves cornbread with it.
Yiu will have trial and error and in the beginning they will try to eat what they use to but they will chew and spit it out so, feed them what they will eat. I have found the following...
Eggs, Oatmeal, Waffles, Pancakes, Yogurt (smoothed or whipped without bits of fruit because the bits will be felt and spit out.
In the beginning he would still eat meatloaf but only if the hamburger was really grounded to make a smooth taste.
Try Cottage Cheese or anything soft that they use to like.
My Dad also eats, Applesauce, Mash Potatoes and Gravy, Mashed Carrots, Mashed Squash.
Besides the smooth yogurts.
My Dad will drink the drinkable yogurts which is good protein.
He also likes Milk and Juice which is good since he doesn't want to drink much water, but as long as they intake fluids, they won't dehydrate.
Chocolate or Strawberry Shakes are a Favorite and of course ice cream.
Look for sweets with the most protein and least amount of sugar.
Note that when you get old, you lose your taste and that's why the Elderly like the sweets so much.
I found some of the Little Debbie bite size brownies that come in a box of 5 with 5 in a package has the most amount of protein.
They also sale Little bites with different flavors like Banana, Pumpkin,
Soft Breakfast Nutriinal Bars are also a good source of protein.
My dad really likes the Apple ones but all the fruit ones are good and the fruit inside is more of a jam, not bits of fruit that would be spit out.
Little Debbie has a soft Oatmeal Cookie with white cream inside plus they have a Soft Round Cookie called Fudge Rounds.
He also loves sliced lemon cream cake from Walmart and Bakery Muffins like cinnamon swirl, pumpkin just anything with no nuts or bits of fruit.
My Dad also likes to have a snack every 2-3 hrs, like a newborn.
I'll give him a cookie or muffin and a small glass of milk which the milk helps keep him hydrated.
His favorite Ensure or other Breakfast drink would be Chocolate Flavor.
In the beginning he would eat peanut butter or cheese crackers as long as the peanut butter or cheese was the smooth kind.
I know you're thinking all the sweets and I did too in the beginning but when it comes down to it anything my Dad eats to kerp his weight up is better than trying to force him to eat and swallow things he doesn't want and really, at that age.
They should be able to do and eat whatever they want.
Your loved one might as well be happy and not miserable trying to make them healthy in their 90's.
Since your mom likes ice cream why not make her some home made ice cream and include some ensure or other nutritional drink in the recipe.
1. Dysphagia, a swallowing disorder which prevents swallowing foods like chicken and other solid foods. Or
2. Change in taste buds. Is she or has she taken Amiodarone for a cardiac
condition? It can, and did for my father, cause a change in taste buds.
Reread CWillie's and Grandma's advice; they address the conditions to which I refer. And do some research on "dysphagia."
Best to you...
She never lost an ounce until about a month before she died.
Let us know if this trick works!
My Gram had a morning food routine "2 spoonsful" of overly sweetened oatmeal, 1/2 of a room temperature banana, super "white" coffee and a couple of sweets. She lived to be almost 99.
Definitely speak to your doctor about this. Good luck to you.
At 93 let her eat what she wants imo. What's the worst that can happen, she gets diabetes in 10 years?
HaHa! she immediately canceled the therapy because she hates therapy and exercising!
I am letting her do anything that is safe. We fight a lot less!
When she wants to do something unsafe I remind her the goal is dying at home, not in the hospital with broken bones or pneumonia or Covid on a ventilator!
(like yesterday when she wanted to help me move recliners. She can barely walk and is really unsteady! I did have to add 'the talk' about her not understanding or remembering that she just can't do some things, and that I was calling out the caregiver card and putting my foot down. She doesn't like it but knows I am right. I try not to do that too often so it doesn't wear thin.)
Luckily I live with her and her dementia is early stages. Which she also denies!.
Steph from Pa.
Her generation was part of the glamorous Hollywood era.
My mom didn’t even get her mail without her hair done and make up done!