I spend 3 hours each day sitting with my mom at the kitchen table. Let me explain: it takes Mom at least an hour to eat any meal I put before her. One scrambled egg and a piece of buttered toast–1 hour to eat; a bowl of oatmeal–1 hour to eat; a bowl of creamed broccoli cheddar soup–1 hour to eat. You get the picture. She rarely ever finishes a meal. I think she gets tired of eating, or rather chewing. She puts a fork or spoonful in her mouth and chews and chews and chews. It’s hard to get enough calories into her. I sit with her while she’s at the table to encourage her to eat and remind her to swallow.
I used to give her a protein drink in the morning with protein powder, whole milk, an egg, coconut oil, ground flaxseed–around 650 calories. She dutifully drank it every morning. But now she can’t. I don’t know why; the speech therapist doesn’t know why. She would take a gulp of the drink and hold it in her mouth. I had to coach her through each mouthful. Finally it got to the point she just refused to drink it anymore. That’s when I switched to my version of a high calorie oatmeal with ground flaxseed, coconut oil, maple syrup and topped with ice cream in an effort to get calories into Mom. Unfortunately she can only eat half of it.
This is a new trend in the past few months. From what I’ve read it’s one of those things that develops as dementia progresses. Recently when I was helping her bathe I realized she was starting to look skinnier than I was used to seeing. I weighed her and discovered she had lost 12 lbs since Christmas.
Mom has a sweet tooth so I started buying premium ice cream for her to get some extra calories each day. I told the rest of the family it was off limits for them. After dinner, long after everyone else has finished and left the table and the dishes have been cleaned, Mom finishes up her meager meal and says she can’t eat anymore. She gets up and moves to her comfy chair. I dish her out a generous portion of ice cream and hand it to her. She takes it with a happy smile and thanks me. Guess how long it takes her to eat that bowl of ice cream–5 minutes. Now that’s the mom I’ve always known.