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Clueless in TN

picky senior eater. HELP!

12 posts in this topic

This may not be the right forum for this problem.  My dad came home from skilled nursing a week ago.  He was there for a couple weeks, after being in the hospital one week for yet another UTI.  Since then, I've noticed that his dementia has increased.  That's not as big a problem as the mealtime battles.  When I was growing up, he was never a picky eater.  Now, oh my gosh!  Meals are 'too bland', or he just doesn't like things, like leaving behind all the carrots in the soup bowl (this was Chunky Chicken & vegetables, nothing weird).  The drama has gotten to the point where he's teary if he doesn't like it.  No I don't yell at him!  It's not that it's too chewy, tough, dry, etc. that would make something hard to eat.  I cut things up in tiny pieces & make it easy.  

 

I can't just give him whatever, he's a diabetic.  I'm not much of a 'home cooking' type of cook - don't like it, never learned it & can't make gravy to save my life.  I swear I'm not serving him crap, we eat it too & DH says it's good.  (We're not honeymooners; after 30 years, he'd tell me if he didn't like it!)  

 

I don't remember what my mom cooked - we haven't lived near them since 1990.  With the caregiving & trying to do my job too, I'm ready to say screw the healthy stuff, just fix a separate meal of easy box stuff.  When I ask him what he wants, he can't come up with any suggestions. This is starting to turn in to a deal-breaker.  I'm so stressed out, at yesterday's doctor's appointment I found out that the rash I have is shingles!  I swear I want to run away & take my husband with me.

Edited by Clueless in TN

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You're funny.  One man's crap is another man's gourmet meal.    Can you think back what he used to like eating?  Ask him what types of food he likes.  I treat my mom like a child now and it works for her.  Your father has been away for a while so it will take time to feel comfortable in your house again.  What did he eat when he was away? Maybe if you eat with him the food will taste better.    Little things can make a bad situation better.   Don't sweat it.  At least he wants to eat.   

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The food to me seemed to be like what I think of as hospital food - mashed potatoes, gravy, some kind of chopped meat, veggies, etc.  We do sit together at the table, and when I finish I still hang around at the table.  As a last resort I have plenty of Glucerna    "Bottoms up, Dad!"

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When a person is in a good mood they tend to eat more.  I'm glad you keep him company even when you are finished eating.  Have you tried keeping him entertained with something to talk about that interests him?   Are you saying that he likes the hospital type food?   He's a meat and potato kind of man right?   Don't laugh but... have you tried spam?  Chop that up with scrambled eggs is pretty tasty.

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My husband is a PWP with dementia. Eating is an issue with him as well. Breakfast is usually not a problem. He will eat boxed cereal, waffles or pancakes. Sometimes for a change he likes sausage and eggs. I alternate for variety. He doesn't eat much, but I am okay with that. He usually eats just one more meal mid afternoon. He will eat lasagne, a variety of sandwiches, some casseroles, a variety of soups, salads now and then. He likes fast food enchiladas and now and again hamburger and fries. Usually he can't tell me what he wants, so I give him two or three choices. Last week I made Augratin potatoes from a package and he liked that. I fill in with snacks through the day--oranges ( clementines are good because he likes to peel them.), bananas, grapes, strawberries, nuts, apples, pears, and whatever is in season. He isn't big on sweets, but sometimes likes cookies, cake, nuts, candy, etc. I make sure I have a variety of things to drink. We have a large grocery store near that has a great deli with everything from meatloaf, potatoes and gravy, salads,soups, pizza, etc. The prices are quite reasonable; he usually eats it, and it gives me a break. I have to gently persuade him to get back to eating his food because he forgets what he is doing. When he says enough, I take it away. If he doesn't want it, that's okay. Be sure he isn't having trouble swallowing. He might prefer soft foods like puddings, yogurt, apple sauce, etc. His general practioner told me that with dementia, the appetite center is often affected. I have an advantage because I know my husband's food likes over the many years. Also my husband has no food restrictions. The diabetes complicates things for you. Don't worry if he doesn't like carrots. That's okay. You have all my compassion with shingles. No wonder you are on the edge. Hopefully it is a mild case and you are on the mend soon.

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One thing I forgot to mention is that my freezer is my best friend. I bought a small freezer in addition to the freezer in my refrigerator. I can keep serving sizes of a variety of meals in the freezer. That way there are choices. Preparation time isn't much longer for a large amount than a small amount. How nice it is to have things already prepared. I also went to Sam's Club and bought a large quantity of large paper plates, smaller paper plates, soup bowls, and plastic cups. Saves endless cleanup hours. I have tried to think of every creative way possible to save myself. It keeps me in a much better frame of mind to care for my husband.

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I'm making a list now.  You are awesome Genden69.  I have just recently started to buy canned vegetables and fruit.   We weren't allowed to eat that growing up because my mom said they weren't healthy.  It's not like she cooked anything from scratch either.  She just knew what she didn't want us to eat but very little of what we got to eat.  Thanks for all the ideas.

Edited by miracleseeker
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Clueless, what type of diabetic is your Dad? If he's a Type II, don't sweat the sugar so much. Potatoes and bread are much worse for a diabetic than the occasional sweats. I'm a Type II diabetic and as long as I'm taking my medication, I do fine. If he doesn't mind having his blood sugar tested, maybe you can try some different foods, testing his glucose levels 1 and 2 hours after eating. The worst food for him would be pizza. I limit my pizza to once a month and I only get two slices.

 

Dave

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I think the main thing for you to try is to just  to have him eat often. If he doesn't like one thing (and he doesn't remember things well), he may like it later. Small amounts sometimes works too, a dish of pudding, soup with noodles, etc. You are a great daughter!

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Also remember that smell is a large part of taste.  With PD, smell goes, so tasting food also is harder.  He has just come back from an environment where he ate blander food than normal.  So, try spicing it up.  Squeeze some fresh lemon across his veggies, sprinkle a little curry powder and brown sugar (or approved sweetener for diabetics) on his carrots with the butter.  Try throwing a teaspoon of red pepper flakes into the casserole.  Tell him it's a new recipe and that you would appreciate if he would try one bite.  My DH's weight was drifting down because food didn't 'taste' right.  Experiment; hot, sour, and sweet flavors are the most intense.

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Dave, he's a type 2, but since his last hospitalizations starting in December his blood sugar has been pretty out of control (low).  The doctors finally stopped his insulins & the metformin he was taking for a while.  Diet & his loss of about 40 pounds (which he really needed) have made his blood sugars really good - doctor wants them around 150.   Starting today, his doctor told me to just test once a day instead of the 4X that they were doing at the SNF.  So we'll see what it looks like tomorrow morning.  =:o

  I am being selfish, wanting it to work.  Everything's soooo much easier if I don't have to test & give injections before meals; cooking, toileting, getting everything to the table.  And needing injections makes the chance of getting any respite care more expensive (if DH & I ever get to go away for a weekend).  

 

Well, little miss sunshine is going to go lay down.  The guys are watching election stuff.  Thanks to all of you for your ideas & lending an ear!

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