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Mum not eating properly - I live away

(46 Posts)
mummybear25 Fri 27-May-16 13:08:49

Any ideas on how to encourage Mum (80, living at home independently but starting to need more help) to eat more? I live 3 hours away and visit once a month so it's hard to keep an eye on what she's eating on a day to day basis. She's never had much interest in food and doesn't socialise so she finds it hard to keep motivated. Currently her weight has slipped back to 6 stone 13 (she's 5ft 3).

We're thinking of ringing the changes with Wiltshire Farm Foods instead of the supermarket ready meals she's been eating and also were going to try supplement drinks. She doesn't have a carer, but we're wondering if that might also help to have someone pop in every so often.

We also need to encourage her to drink as she was recently hospitalised with a UTI, but she worries about night time incontinence. Suggestions please!

SilvaCaledonia Fri 27-May-16 13:12:02

Cook! foods also deliver and have some nice things. And some specially for small appetites, iirc

WhirlwindHugs Fri 27-May-16 13:17:03

A mix of supermarket and the nicer home delivery neals might be good.

I would get a carer though. As you live further away I would look for a company that has an emphasis on social support, that would take her shopping for new shoes etc as well as offering physical care. Ask if they have experience with clients not eating and how they approached it. Soneone who will sit and chat while they eat can be really encouraging.

Good luck.

mummybear25 Fri 27-May-16 13:23:06

Wow they do look nice,! However, Mum is lactose intolerant (and has a few other issues that are either genuinely a problem or a long held belief ifyswim ;-)) and looking at their dairy free options there's nothing she would choose. What a shame it would have added a bit of variety to her eating.

Buttock Fri 27-May-16 13:23:34

I would take a trip to the doctors and have some Ensure prescribed. They also have ensure fruit juices now which might encourage her to drink more. Is the bathroom near her? Would she be open to having a commode in her room for night time? How would she feel about carers coming In To just clean the commode, and serve her meals?

Yes to ditching the supermarket meals. There's no nutrition there.

Was she normally a big eater? How about teeth? Could she be having problems or with her dentures? Maybe she is finding chewing large bits of food hard?

You really should talk to her about what she feels is causing her to eat less (if she still has mental capacity). Sometimes (I don't mean to sound blunt) it's just natural progression for someone that age to stop eating large amounts. It's just the body's way of preparing.

mummybear25 Fri 27-May-16 13:27:26

I think the social side is probably one of the biggest problems. When we take her out when we visit she can eat an amazing amount really, but when she prepares meals herself they are usually about 1/3 to 1/2 what she'd eat out. She won't even put the telly on any more for company as she worries about turning it off ( a whole suite of other issues we're trying to get help for). She is looking for someone who can help with the cleaning, perhaps we can find someone who can fulfill all these roles, even if they only come in a few days a week....

nailslikeknives Fri 27-May-16 13:28:19

WFFoods are v g.
Cook is lovely but expensive by comparison and not as traditional so that's up to personal taste.
I feel for you. We had the exact same prob with my Granny, 80 at the time. I dealt with it as my parents were out of the country.
Normal supermarket delivery didn't work, partly as the packets, jars, bottles etc were too tricky to open. Make sure she has sharp, not too big kitchen scissors and knife to open the plastic foil, plus any other useful jar opener etc Make sure she knows tricks like banging the edge of the lid of a jar on the counter top to release the seal.
With liquids, we tried to make things tastier and higher calorie with cordials & squash. The UTIs were a big issue.
Has she got a personal alarm? They're not as expensive as you might think.

Reading back, I think I should add that Granny lived to be 91. Had 5 v happy years at the end in a lovely care home. She has all her faculties and used them to read/write instead of household stuff.

Very best wishes with it all.

nailslikeknives Fri 27-May-16 13:31:28

And to add, the care home fixed the social side. There was tonnes to do, people to eat with, gardens to enjoy etc

juneau Fri 27-May-16 13:36:15

Could you encourage her to drink more during the day? I can appreciate if she's worried about incontinence at night not wanting to drink lots in the evening, but could you and see agree that she'll drink x amount until 6pm or something? As for the incontinence would she agree to wear a pad at night? I'm guessing that will be a 'no', but a lot of older people do. It might be worth talking to her doctor as well to see if s/he has any suggestions or seeing if you DM could be referred to a geriatrician, who will be well used to these issues.

WhirlwindHugs Fri 27-May-16 13:41:05

Yup, the social can be a big thing. Especially if they're feeling a bit depressed then making a proper meal can seem a bit pointless.

Thinking to the future, I would try and start having conversations about care homes, if there are nice ones locally sometimes they do day sessions so she could go in for a day's activities and company and also get to see whether she might like to move in at some point.

This stuff is really hard, we're in a similar position to nails. DHs grandma has gone into a care home now (she was having a lot of falls) which she hated to start with but seems to enjoy now. Before that point good supportive carers made a huge difference.

mummybear25 Fri 27-May-16 13:43:19

Buttock we've had all sorts of issues over the past 10 years. She is being treated for depression now and also has OCD which isn't being treated as she doesn't fancy CBT. She also went through a long period of excluding certain foods after deciding that they didn't agree with her for one reason or another (usually after seeing something in the paper). Only the lactose intolerance has been shown to be correct.

After her UTI hospital stay she did have carers for a few weeks but she managed so well that it was mutually agreed to end the support. She has a commode but makes it to the bathroom, but usually to change a wet Tena brief. She only has issue with incontinence at night and we need to take this further with the GP/district nurse again as she does find it drags her down.

I'm not aware of any issue with physically eating as she can get through a good plateful when we go out. I think the issue is more likely to be that the meals she makes at home are an ingrained routine. We tried preparing a checklist/reminder of the meals and snacks she should try to eat in a day but this doesn't seem to be working for her. I think the social side that Whirlwind mentioned is also a factor, but someone would have to come in to her, she's not interested in clubs or day centres.

poisonedbypen Fri 27-May-16 13:44:07

My father uses Wiltshire FF since my mother died. The advantage of them over Cook or supermarket ready meals is that they are a complete meal, veg included. They do small portions if you want them for tiny appetites & have a HUGE range available. The man that delivers them is nice too, and it is another person visiting once a week (my father has them most weeks), if only for a few minutes.

CMOTDibbler Fri 27-May-16 13:46:16

If she's open to a cleaner, then if you can find someone who is happy to do a bit of cleaning, make her a meal, sort out some drinks for the day in the fridge, leave a sandwich for later, potter round doing a bit of cleaning each day etc it would work perfectly.

Dad wasn't keen (mum isn't good at expressing preferences) on the Wiltshire meals, but they are good with allergy stuff and its easy to pick and choose different bits. The puddings are quite good.

How might your mum feel about going to a lunch club? Some have transport, and its social and good food

mummybear25 Fri 27-May-16 14:07:47

Hi Nails - she does manage with most packets pretty well - she gets the pliars on them if she can't open the smaller plastic lids like soya milk! She does have an alarm (after she fell and broke her leg 18 months ago) but when she fell with UTI she didn't press it as the UTI had addled her brain.

I have started looking at sheltered housing options locally 'just in case'. She quite enjoyed the social side of being in rehab after she broke her leg, but now she's home is adamant she doesn't want to do anything like that. We're realising now that her 'foibles' are perhaps not foibles but a need to contol things. Have just changed my plans to visit her over half term so that I can perhaps get a visit to the Dr in.

mummybear25 Fri 27-May-16 14:13:58

Hi juneau - thanks, we've been down this route. I found a really useful leaflet online from Guys hospital which siad the same thing - cut out the evening drinking but drink during the day. She wears Tena pants at night and gets on with them ok but has the odd leak. She was seeing the local incontinence nurse but couldn't cope with the monitoring she was required to do - probably as she was coming down with the UTI. I ring her daily, but don't check with her daily re eating/drinking as it feels like I'm nagging. She assures me she does eat/drink, but has lost 5lb in the last couple of months...

Buttock Fri 27-May-16 14:24:24

Yes it probably is a social thing then. I think the cleaner option would be good so she has some social interaction. I had an ill old relative in hospital for a few months and a lot of the patients in the ward spoke about how this is the only time they've interacted with anyone in months and it was better than being at home sad.

If there's nothing wrong physically with her eating habits then definitely get the Ensure bottles and juices to supplement. They normally recommend one or two a day and it provides enough nutrients as part of a healthy diet.

mummybear25 Fri 27-May-16 14:26:30

Hi again CMOT, she really digs her heels in with social stuff but whenever we're out with her she likes bumping in to people. I don't know if it's the thought of it she doesn't like and is determind not to give it a try? Especially since Dad died she seems to need to keep a tight control over things to keep them manageable. She currently has the Morrisons delivery person, hairdresser and gardener visit weekly and the chirpodist about once a month. She also gets a taxi into town about once a month to go to the library and bank. So, on some levels she manages quite well, but on her terms. I think we'll explore the carer/cleaner route a bit more carefully and see what we can come up with. Hopefully they could come on a day when she currently doesn't have someone so that we can extend the social contact.

Thanks for the feedback re WFF. Mum will cook eg beef casserole, but won't often do things with it, so the options to take calories on board are being limited. Hopefully with a 'whole meal' being provided by WWF she can up the calories a bit.

mummybear25 Fri 27-May-16 14:38:52

Buttock do Ensure need a prescription or can you buy them somewhere? If I can take a couple up to try we can then see about getting them added to her prescription - which are delivered - more social contact!

CMOTDibbler Fri 27-May-16 14:51:56

You can buy Ensure online and it looks like all the milky ones are lactose free.

I know what you mean about the resistance to social things! Mine won't go to the day centre, but mum now goes out for a coffee with one of their carers (this one does the big cleaning) once a week, and for a push around the garden centre. Dad can go out on his mobility scooter, and enjoys that but wouldn't go to the carers group

mummybear25 Fri 27-May-16 16:57:24

One of the hardest things I find is that seeing her only once a month it's hard not to get to sucked into to dealing with all the various jobs that need doing. We have to make sure we plan a 'nice' activity for at least part of the visit.

RhinestoneCowgirl Fri 27-May-16 17:02:25

Would your mum be up for a befriender? Think Age UK runs a scheme. They match a volunteer with an older person who then visit regularly. It's about social contact.

mummybear25 Fri 27-May-16 17:06:20

Sounds interesting rhinestone; will look into that

saskdilemma Fri 27-May-16 17:08:59

OP does your mother live near a university or town? During my student days I lodged with an old lady who I helped out but the rent was cheap.

saskdilemma Fri 27-May-16 17:12:25

My suggestion was if money was a problem you can get a live in carers that might be a more permanent solution. Also a live in can be more observant but sometime company can make a person (your mom, a bit more distracted) happier.

hollinhurst84 Fri 27-May-16 17:20:34

Would she eat any puddings? Just thinking calorie wise, my nan would eat a tiny meal but if you offered her a pudding she was always ooh I think I have room grin

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