(800) 973-1540

How can I better my mother with Alzheimer's nutrition?

43 answers | Last updated: Apr 22, 2015
An anonymous caregiver asked...

My 88 year old mum has been victim of AD since 20001. It's now very difficult to persuade her to eat. She exists on Forticrem Yoghurts. She also now goes through harrowing periods of tormented agitation. Do you think a change of medication may help? She currently takes Trazadone. Thanks.


Caring.com User - Jennifer Serafin, N.P.
Caring.com Expert
Send a Hug or Prayer
Jennifer Serafin, N.P. is a registered nurse and geriatric nurse practitioner at the Jewish Homes for the Aged in San Francisco.
92% helpful

As people with Alzheimer's progress throught the disease, appetite becomes an issue. It is often very difficult to get proper nutrients into someone who will not eat. You can try See also:
Dementia and Driving: Is It OK?

See all 1035 questions about Alzheimer's and Other Dementias
using supplements, like Boost or Ensure, as they have vitamins and protein added. Since she likes yogurt, you can try nutritional puddings, as they have the same consistency. But, keep in mind that sometimes this lack of eating is a sign that the disease is progressing.

Regarding her periods of agitation, I know from experience how distressing these can be. And yes, sometimes a change of medication can be helpful. Trazadone is often used for agitation, but it can make some people very sleepy. There are many other medications that we are using now, like antidepressants and mood stabilizers, that may help. You may want to schedule a visit with her health care professional to see if they have any thoughts.


More Answers
94% helpful
pollytnjc answered...

Hi I have noticed that my mother is also not eating as much, but she will eat a very good meal if I fix it and sit down with her to eat. She does much better when not left to eat alone or to prepare her own food. She is also starting to "hoard" food - particularly snack stuff. It is the craziest thing!! However, my biggest issue with my mother is taking in enough fluids. She gets dehydrated very fast, and she becomes more difficult and more lethargic the longer the dehydration persists. It is a constant effort pushing fluids on her - she sips - takes hours to drink one glass of water or gatoraide. While food intake is sometimes a problem and could become more of an issue if not closely monitored, I watch out carefully for dehydration. It has one of the most sweeping affects on my mother of anything.


93% helpful
Terrysmith700 answered...

My 76 year old mother is in the advanced stages of this disease also. I have taken on the task of her care because she is very mobile and was injuring herself in assisted living facilities over the past three years. It seems that no matter who is affected, the symptoms are the same. My mother has been a very small person all of her life (never more than 140 lbs), she never had a healthy intake of nutrition based on her food preferences, and she has been a heavy drinker most of my life. She has lost 10 lbs while being in my care since April 2009. I am having the same experience that she does not take in foods and fluids well, yet she will eat yogurt very well. She is also taking Trazodone, but as a sleep aide. None of the medicines seem to work for the agitation. We have tried Namenda, Respiradol, and I have even tried the SPECIAL concept of managing her moods but that seems to give her entitlement issues and makes her more arrogant. What has worked well for her intake is to mix multi-grain cereal in the yogurt (I use cheerios) I always serve it with a small cup of cut fruit on the side, I hold the nutritional drink until the end of her meal so she does not fill up on that first. I recently had her doctor prescribe a medicine to increase her desire for food (Megase = Mejestrol). We are just a few days into this medicine but it seems to be working. Particularly in the morning- now I serve her the yogurt with cereal, fruit, and when she is done I serve her sliced potatoes, and eggs with toast. She has eaten every thing I serve her for breakfast as of this morning. But usually does not eat that well in the evening. I only hope that this 30 days use of this medicine will put some of her weight back on because she is down to 90 lbs now and I fear that if she gets physically ill her lack of weight will present a recovery problem. Bless all who have to deal with this on a daily basis...it is very hard.


Send a Hug or Prayer
96% helpful
A fellow caregiver answered...

My 94 year old Mom has always been a very finicky eater- still is. She likes strawberry shakes so in a blender, I combine a bottle of strawberry ensure, strawberry ice cream, half a banana, container of strawberry yogurt, a few fresh strawberries and a half a dose of miralax. Bottom line- she drinks it.


83% helpful
Marilyn Hasler answered...

To anonymous....about nutrition. I have the same experience you have. My husband who is in advanced stages of Alz has no appetite......and exsists almost completely on ENSURE. He really likes to drink this and this is is main source of nutrition. I have found he eats better in a resturant than at home and I always order the the same thing for him. In a resturant he will eat a plain grilled cheese sandwich quite well......but not at home.! He used to eat oatmeal but now doesn't like that either. But he sure drinks a lot of Ensure. Usually 5 bottles a day. Sometimes 6. He tell me that is all he needs. You may want to try Ensure for your mum.


100% helpful
Annett answered...

My mom also has severe Alzheimer's and it used to be a struggle to get her to drink enough fluids. Mom uses a straw to drink and I discovered that dipping the end of the straw she drinks from in the drink or yogurt encourages her to suck on the straw. Also, mom took trazadone once, but it put her to sleep for 2 days, so we tried her on a low dose of Seroquel (25mg. cut in half, 2 times a day) which worked for a while. Now, she is on Resperidol-M ("M" is for MELT) .5mg one time a day and this seems to be working for her agitation and anxiety. Good luck! It is a hard job even on a good day!


100% helpful
Try2care487 answered...

Well I guess we're all in the same boat! My mom's 89 with Alzheimer's and also has problems eating and drinking enough fluids and swallowing her pills.

What I do is crush all her pills together into a powder and mix it in apple sauce she loves it ! (but check with your doctor or pharmacist to make sure the meds your loved one takes can be mixed together)

Then I alternate every other day, mixing various fruit like strawberries/blueberries and cherios into yogurt or cottage cheese. Another thing she loves is peanut butter on lightly toasted bread.

She drinks milk and any other liquids with a straw because as the disease progresses there is a chance your loved one can develop pneumonia. Because as the involuntary function of the throat muscles continue to diminish, this can lead to liquid going down the wrong pipe and getting into the lungs. Drinking through a straw allows the throat muscles to be alerted that there is food on it's way down and the muscles help to swallow.

Another thing you can do to help your loved one that suffers from dehydration or that doesn't want to drink anything, is to feed them foods with a high liquid content like watermelon or feed them jello. No one ever choked on jello before and it goes down smooth. There is also a product that you can get at Walgreens called "Thick it" which turns liquids into a "jello like" state.

My mom also drinks Ensure through a straw when she doesn't feel like eating.

I hope that's helpful!


100% helpful
musicmaker answered...

If there is one things I've learned through my mom's illness of Alzheimer is that no one, and I mean no one truly knows what the answers are....everyone tries this or tries that and for some it works and for others it doesn't. This is one of the sadiest illnesses I have ever be a part of. My mom is like everyone else's patient that has Alzheimer not eating, not drinking, aggression and agitation, sleeping long periods when medicated and developing pnuemonia, UTI's, and dehygration. My mom's a tough cookie! I learn each day. She loves ice cream so her meds are given with ice cream which is now a part of her nutrition all day. Mike shakes through a straw are good for her because she's beginning to have problems swallowing. Most of the time she is medicated when she becomes aggressive/agitated and although I understand the reasoning, it hurts to think that she is reduced to a zombie state and that alternative methods are not tried. My mom will be going to a new Memory Care Facility in our city in a few days and although I know they can't make her better they do have alternative methods of dealing with Alzheimer,Dementia, and Parkinson patients and only use medicating them for aggression and agitation as a last option. I'm praying that these techniques are beneficial to all the patients there and especially her. Dignity is a something we all need to protect for our loved ones.


Send a Hug or Prayer
100% helpful
A fellow caregiver answered...

my wife has had this for 7 years she will eat cerial in the late morning because she sleeps most of the tine now. she will eat half a peanut butter sandwich for lunch. hardly any supper. loves ice cream for night snak. cant remember hardly anything and gets angry most easy.will keep her at home as long as possible and she remembers me and my name.drinks boost and pepsi. bob wilson


100% helpful
MelindaFindsIt answered...

My mother-in-law, who has AD ( 87) went through this---would not eat or drink a thing eventually. Sent to the hospital for dyhration.We thought it was the end. Finally, had a feeding tube inserted. IT CHANGED HER LIFE !!!!!!!!

She is in Skilled Care, but she is alert, perky, cracks jokes with the nurses and even eats and drinks small amounts now orally. We are amazed. So don't think you have run out of airstrip just yet!

There is hope--just keep looking and then look again!


100% helpful
An anonymous caregiver answered...

Sometimes dipping the tip of your spoon in icecream will stimulate the person to open their mouth to take a bite of food. The cold will stimulate their reflex to eat. Try alternating cold and hot foods, liquid and solids,etc. People with Alzheimer's often loose the ability to taste foods: sweet usually lasts the longest...so try adding sugar or syrup to food. There was a study done with 18 people with agitated dementia: 17 were receiving medications to control their behavior. They gave everyone Tylenol three times a day...and they were able to stop all but one of the other medications. Even if someone with Dementia says they don't have pain....they may very well be having pain. Antidepressants are also very helpful with Alzheimer's, including appetite. Hope it helps.


100% helpful
Nutrition answered...

Yoghurt is the most easily digested food. To combine a natural (sugar free) and organic or biodynamic yoghurt (such as Marrook Farm or Jalna) with fresh, blended fruit is a wonderful meal. Raw goat's milk, also, is a complete food that we can live on for a very long time...just as babies live on mother's milk. (Goat's milk is the closest to our own, human milk.) If they were the only things your loved one were to eat/drink, know that they are receiving good food. In addition, Alzheimer's sufferers (or the elderly) do not require a great deal of food, as they do very little exercise, so don't be distressed if it appears they aren't eating as much as they used to.)To add supplements to the mix would also be advantageous. A banana smoothie (ripe banana) is sweet and yummy - perhaps the person for whom you're caring would enjoy these. Also, as people age, they can often fail to recognise 'thirst'. Raw goat's milk also provides much of the water content they require. All the best.


100% helpful
snow answered...

Anonymous on the tylenol writing:

What is the tylenol suppose to accomplish?

My Mom had extreme agitation and was non-med compliant. She was agressive towards me and I saw a stranger I had never met. It was not pleasant getting her to the doctors which is too long a write. She is on Resperidol and depression meds, as well as too much blood pressure. I do not think she would have survived if she would not have gotten medical help when she did or she would have hurt me or someone. I do not think tylenol or natural approaches would help. I am interested in the reasons for tylenol. She was diagnosed with vascular dementia but I question it at times. She eats fine.

For the first question on top with the 88 year old with trazadone only. My Mom was tormented with agitation. She is on trazadone and her local family doc who seems sharp, kind and better at dementia than most smaller rural doctors called this primarily a sleeping pill. It would not have helped her mood swings, agitation or dillusions. I have no doubt about this as I experienced both. Ask about trying a mood pill and or depression med. They can start a low dose. I never thought for awhile I would see MOM again. I do at least some of the time now.

I was against depression pills for myself but I found out one of the medical people on the home visits uses them and I researched. I am an anxiety type person anyway and all this is life-changing. I just got a script and I am starting a low dose for sleep and axiety and I am looking forward to feeling & sleeping better. Do your own research and ask questions.

I decided that when she acts up I get anxious and wound up myself too often and that is just not flying with my health status or going to make us last in this situation. I am on high blood meds myself.

Everyone try to remember us the caregivers. It is such a mistake not to take care of ourselves. Do we want two victims of illness????? Take those VITAMINS. Plan your free minutes!!!!!!!!!


67% helpful
bobsy answered...

I recently brought my mom to live with my family. She lost her husband of 40yrs. after a long battle with cancer. She was the one he took care of for a long time. Then at the end she became the caregiver. I haven't had her tested for dementia or alziemer's yet but would like to ask, yes she has regressed into a bad health situation, she is severe diabetic, so thats going up and down like crazy. But for the last few months she definately demonstrates this sundowner's syndrome that I have been reading about. She lately has been sleeping alot and has frequent cold symtoms. I going to have her checked by a doctor but how do you go about starting to get a parent told you suspect ALziemer's or dementia? Need some help!!! Plse advise She also has very strong tremors in her hands that 2 yrs.ago were tested and no parkinson's was diagnosed then.Depression is also a factor, and eating is another.


67% helpful
kidme56 answered...

Yes, it seem everybody on the same boat with our love ones they don't eat much and drink much.Since I got involve in caring small little feeding is the strategy my friend and I are trying.Since the grand dad like ice cream, we have been giving frozen yogurts of different flavors.But lately it is not working so we are in to soy products.Now Less gas.All the medication you mention was tried too,but Seraquel seem better than the rest except during full moon.He gets agitated to the max. that's when I like the day off.He is awake for a day or two then sleep for the same and that is the time that feeding is so difficult.He barely eats if he does,he only eat the sweets like the soy ice cream we flavored it mango his favorite.But what do we expect,he 86 years old.


80% helpful
inmangirl answered...

Bless you all for being caregivers. We will all do whatever we need to take care of our parents. My father is also a victim of this horrible disease. We have just placed him in a Memory Care ward of an assisted living home because my mother could not take care of him any longer. They seem to gradually revert back to children and in the end infancy. My dad has not adjusted well at all to being away from his home (his familiar surroundings) and being away from his wife of 5 years. It is heartbreaking to see him suffer like this. My brother and I both fear getting this disease as we age, since it is very prevalent in my dad's family. My prayers are with every family that has to endure this disease. To see one's body in such fine shape, then to see his mind so weak and destroyed. I will keep all of you in my prayers.


33% helpful
dara answered...

My mom was on trazd. for awhile.. however when she had an episode of lowering of heart rate.. a specialist said at her age 72 he would never perscribe trazd. It made her dementia worse.. like the doctor said.. it can make you sleepy which adds to confusion anyway.. so I just give my mom trazd. at night 50mg. to help her sleep. Aricept helps and she is now on nemenda.. which is helping in some areas.. I feel your pain and I am glad your mom has you. I too give my mom ensure/ or generic brand.. and she loves it. Also, liquid vitamin b gives energy and a pep. Also, anyone facing high blood pressure, anxiety.. try calm which is a powder form of magnesium. It relaxes you and helps you sleep. It is a mineral we don't get enough of. In fact, 80 percent of u.s. is deficent of it. Lack of it is linked to even a.d.d irritable bowl syndrom, anxiety.. its a mineral.. our body NEEDS it.


83% helpful
dara answered...

It is hard. Im the youngest of six children. Also, a single mom. One was giving me a break but, when mom came home she was angrier than ever. Everything, in my room belonged to her she said. She hoards cans and platics. Saves wierd things. So, what would have helped me.. agitated her and I paid for it. I guess she needs to be around what is familiar. I pray for help and read the bible. I study it mostly. I have learned and friends have told me that I should know my limit. Sometimes I want to run away.. then I feel so guilty and angry too. So, I am trying to discern between patience and my limits. I have to find work after being layed off then, I worry about being home and gone everyday- then I get upset bc I want to be a mom to my son and a lot of times I am not allowed to. She recieves medicare/medicaid- is there nurses or help that could come in that this would pay for it. Just some help so I don't have to take her to somewhere. I don't want to. She cries and begs anytime I mention it. I think the nemenda is helping her sometimes real good than other times I think.. what happened. The doctor said give it 3 months. It has been a month and a half. Thank you for this place to vent and talk. We need eachother.


50% helpful
dara answered...

My mom forgets that she eats and then wants to eat more. She does eat more sweets than other things. She says she can't taste other things. She takes Namenda, Aricept, and trazadone for sleep. I read this blog and I have to say, I am proud of you for wanting to take care of your mom. It is hard. You at times feel guilty for being mad it is hard. But, I think we all go through that. My love to you.


100% helpful
saranell answered...

Hello Everyone, I just joined this site, and I am so glad that I found it. I commend all of you for the jobs that you are doing taking care of your loved ones with Alzheimer, and dementia. It is a heartbreaking disease. I care for my husband who is a bed bound patient with Alzheimer. he is on Aricept and namenda plus meds for anxiety plus heart medications. I noticed as I was reading all your letters that there are similarities with the different symptoms. He forgets he has eaten and wants to eat again. He always says that no one ever feeds him. My two unmarried sons moved in with me after he was diagnosed, Being bed bound he requires even more help, since he has to be changed and turned often to keep from getting bed sores. He is totally helpless. Medicare paid for a hydrolic lift to transfer him from bed to his chair. There are a lot of help that you can get if you apply. Talk to your physician. I hope some of these things have been of help to you. God bless all of you.


Colleen11 answered...

My mom also wont drink!! Well i take that back, i can barely get her to drink one 8 oz bottled water PER DAY. Its horrible. She is so dehydrated. So i finally experimented with different things and found she likes Diet Peach Snapple. Recent discovery. So now she drinks ONLY those, but i figure at least its liquid. But water she wont do, hardly. And her skin shows the dehydration. I know psychologically its because she doesnt want to go to the bathroom, and she has kidney issues so is afraid to pee or something. Its all messed up. Doc tells me to just try my best. I cant get her to do yogurt but i keep them all in the refrig anyhow. She loves when i make her oatmeal. Now this past year she has developed a throat issue, she tells me it feels swollen all the time. I was trying to eliminate things it might be, but now reading these comments, is this something that is TYPICAL?? O boy i hope not. Its quite bothersome to her.


75% helpful
MomsHelper answered...

First of all Id like to give you all a big group hug and thank you for your input on this forum ! Ive looks all over the internet for a venting , information forum like this and I'll tell you this is the best place I've found . Thank You Lord ! I too am a caregiver for my mother-inlaw with Alzhiemers. She has moved in with us and I care for her 24/7 now. She is still mobile but is starting to shuffle her feet in the mornings and late at night. She is aggressive, aggitated, disorianted, loss of appetite and and refuses fluides. Wont bathe, tries to wear the same dirty clothes over and over,puts her clothes on backward, wears two different shoes, ect ect just a few things she needs help with now. We are all dealing with the same symptoms . And we all learn to get very creative because of it. I find that if I dont ask her if she wants to eat and just set the table and we all sit down at meal time she will eat because it triggers her memory of family times. But the minute you ask her she will refuse you every time. And Since she can no longer understand a menu at a resturant we do buffet and she can see all the food and doesnt have to put a name to it and she always eats and drinks like a little piggy so far so good. I have noticed that she is starting to have throat issues because she will complain its hard to swallow now and im trying to get her to use a straw but no luck yet. As far as her lack of fluids which is the most challanging and Im trying every thing but she wont drink any milk products at all so insure and boost , pedialite are out, I give her gatoraide at lunch and dinner . She will eat yogurts and jello and I try to give her fruits that are high in water and lucky for me she loves watermelon. If had to stop putting the cookie jar on the counter because she would try and say "oh I'll just have a cookie" and walk away from the table. Sweet is the strongest taste they can remember , so they tend to go for them if you have it around, which can be helpful in taking some pills. Try applesauce, jello and puddings, yogurts its easy to swallow. Mom was always very active so the more she progresses the harder it is to find things that she can still do and succeed. We go for walks and she like to gather rocks then I put them in the tumbler and make them shiney for her. Ive maked her a rock garden outside and we can sit and admire all that she has gathered and it makes her smile. Most important find what it is that they can still do , because most of theyre day they will fail so help them be independant as much as possible, This also helps with theyre agitation . Mom and I are now trying this : I wash and rinse the dishes and she drys now. I vaccumm and she dust, I sweep and she mops and if its not perfect here is what you gotta do.... DONT SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF ! When they are down for a nap plan your alone time and relax ! Again ive learned things from this forum that have helped me through this challenging time and I hope my little input will help others . Alzhiemers may have taking her dignity away from her but it will never take the love I have for her away!


50% helpful
maggiemuggins answered...

In working withe alzhiemers patients,I have found finger foods and high caloric drinks are very good. I try to make the persons favorite foods. Peanut butter has been a wonderful food for protien. I also know in order to get my patient to eat, All televisions off at mealtime. we sit quiet and allow as much time as possible..40 min. is pretty good for my patient.


dara answered...

It can help dimentia.. it can help it a lot or, slow it down or it can get worse. You have to try to know. It takes about a month to know.


An anonymous caregiver answered...

In the answers already, Gatorade was mentioned. Be careful with it because a lot of it can increase the salt in the patient. If there is already a blood pressure problem, you probably should not use it.

If not, boil a large bottle of Gatorade with a large split leaf of aloe cactus. When the water comes to a boil, wait for a white amount of the aloe to come to the surface and then disappear. Now it is ready. Cool it, add sugar some to remove the bitter and leave in the refrigerator in the Gatorade container. The Gatorade heals inflammation and that is the main cause of the plaque in Alzeimer's patients. This method of taking aloe also settles the stomach when drinking about 4 oz every day.


100% helpful
JennyB answered...

Our loved ones can have difficulty eating due to a host of different problems -- medicines that make them nauseated, abdominal discomfort from constipation, changes to their senses of taste and smell making foods unappetizing, arthritis making it painful to raise a spoon or fork, vision problems making it hard for them to find the food in order to eat it, difficulty swallowing (called "dysphagia"), gastrointestinal disorders such as gastroparesis (which often responds well to a pureed diet) making them feel uncomfortably full after just a bite or two ... the list is endless. Just the other day, I saw a post from a caregiver who discovered the problem was thrush.

There's a pretty comprehensive article on how to make sure our loved ones get enough nutrition at:


As for the bouts of agitation ... An astoundingly high percentage of elderly dementia patients have pain that is untreated or under-treated, since our loved ones often can't explain that they are in pain, or where the pain is or what it's like, especially in the later stages. For example, studies have found that most (74%) demented nursing home residents have some pain and the majority (70%) are untreated or under-treated.

Untreated or under-treated pain can produce agitation and behavioral problems due to the suffering they are enduring. And, of course, it can also result in refusal to eat.

There's a good article on pain management in dementia patients at: http://www.alzbrain.org/pdf/handouts/2049.%20MANAGEMENT%20OF%20PAIN%20IN%20PERSONS%20WITH%20DEMENTIA.pdf

Also, there is a good workshop on how to evaluate pain in dementia patients, at: http://www.painanddementia.ualberta.ca/


dara answered...

My mom is hoarding things. She takes things from my 9 yr. old and my things and hides them. Sometimes important. Its almost like a two year old saying everything is theirs. Its hard because most things I need. She hid my sons backpack under her bed even- when he needed to do his homework. I get angry sometimes. I let her wash the dishes but, when you goto to the cupboard to take any out they are dirty- food stuck to some and this is something she wants to do. Just venting right now. I even had to explain why I wash my clothes. And its getting where she wont shower and she is capable. Any help or advice please. I feel bad saying these things but who else is going to understand except when I talk to our Creator- and I pray alot. Anyone who understands and is a single parent please any tips..


100% helpful
EPB answered...

When it comes to their hoarding behavior we haven't found anything that works so we go on scavenger hunts (do NOT accuse them of taking it, do NOT make the mistake of asking them where they've put it -- it's futile, they don't know why they're doing it, don't remember doing it, and will deny it) we just act jolly and start looking, starting with all of her favorite packrat spots. When we find it we make a big "celebration" out of it, yay, we found it. From everything we've read about dementia and hoarding, the person fears that the "important" thing will be "taken." LOL, they're right, someone DOES take it -- them! They'll also believe the item they've hidden belongs to them. Again, don't even try to explain. If they were capable of knowing it didn't belong to them, they wouldn't argue with you that it does. Apparently this behavior can stem from them losing their memory and ability to do even simple tasks, so they counter that "loss" by not "losing" stuff. They're also bored and verrrrry confused.

This being said, let your mom wash the dishes but tell her it's your job to put them away and have her put the "clean" dishes on the counter or table. Then you can re-wash them and let her dry them and put them away. Believe it or not she most likely won't notice that you're re-washing the dishes and will enjoy the "team" activity.

FOOD ISSUES... my mother doesn't remember eating once she leaves the table. She will tell anyone that she hasn't eaten anything all day ("they don't feed me here") and will actually have tears running down her face. She would eat ten peanut butter and jelly sandwiches over the span of 90 minutes if we let her! Then there are other days when she "isn't hungry" and barely eats anything. Her doctor has her on a ton of vitamins, so we don't sweat it too terribly much but it is annoying. And sometimes it seems she just wants the attention and the "control" involved in having people be concerned/jump to her every whim.

GOOD LUCK and thanks for sharing everyone!


dara answered...

Thank you so much EPB. I get so stressed that I just say it. It is usually missing when in a hurry already. ( : It makes so much sense though to not to lose things and keep them safe bc the memory isnt there. I got several kids vitamins she eats and I give her vitamin b12 drops under the tounge sometimes. You know its hard to let go to who they WERE. You are already losing them and they are still there. It hurts all the more. Thank you for helping me. xo


100% helpful
HBOLsunshine answered...

as a non-family caregiver, i can give a non-biased perspective.

alzheimer's is non-recoverable nor reversible. If you can separate yourself (hard to do) enough to consider keeping the person happy, comfortable, and as engaged as possible for the stage, then you ARE doing your job. this may mean finding outside help, as much as you don't want to. i have found that a "stranger" can have better encouragement results than family, sometimes. I believe due to the emotions and history of family.

here's a few tricks that i have had success with: 1. give them the food that they "used" to like and will still enjoy. 2. find the time of day that they will eat the most and serve what they like with what you deem to be "nutritious" -- let them eat what they can, encourage, but don't force. 3. try more spicy foods -- a persons' taste buds lose integrity and when you can't taste your food you don't want to eat.
4. find out what they ate as a child, if you can. sometimes they revert to enjoying the foods that they had in childhood.
5. keep trying things and stick with what works !!
6. HARD PART: know that this is part of the end of life process and take an attitude of serving to honor your loved one with respect and dignity. understanding that appetite does tend to decrease during the day can help you cope with one not eating well at night. you may try to reverse the meal-set of brk being small, lunch being sandwhich, and dinner being large ... most eat more in the morning/early afternoon. i hope this will help.


100% helpful
An anonymous caregiver answered...

My mom is in end stage Alz and just beginning to show real signs of the end of appetite loss. She went through the aggressivenes and paranoid stages a couple years ago; she got meds that made life a lot better. We also went through the non-bathing stage, she kept telling me my bathtub was deeper than hers was. She was on arisept for a while then she got up one day and passed out, tests showed she had a convulsion, then again. Seems that is a side effect in some people with Aricept but it is not indicated on anything, so you don't know to even look for it. However, the doctor seemed to know. She was finally put on namenda which does help a lot. Slows down the effects of alz, not only for the patients benefit but also the caretakers. Mom is now 93, I have been her sole caretaker since 2003. Mom is now in a wheelchair, incontinent and doesn't remember my name, her name or much care about it. She responds to 'mom', other people and enjoys going to walk around in stores, malls, etc. She went to a day care, where I might add she was the clean plate kid. Now however, it takes much longer to finish and she only goes a couple days. What to feed her is a challenge, because she doesn't seem to love the foods she used to love. She now has a really annoying aggitation of grinding her teeth and tensing(stiffening) up.

She also at times has taken to 'leaning forward'. At meal time she will have her face almost on the plate. Asking her (til I get a response)if If anyone knows why.. I would love to know how to stop it. I am thinking it may be a physical manifestation of aggitation. She still has understanding of what is going on, while she doesn't want to talk, she can, but preferrs to answer me with grunts. I had to stop the day care for a while, and it does make a difference. But this would also depend on the person homelife, for us it is just the two of us, if there is a family involved and activity, a daycare might just be a welcome releif for the caregiver for 'mental health'.


Emily M. answered...

Hi anonymous, If you'd like to post your own question, you can do so in our Ask & Answer section here: ( https://www.caring.com/questions/new ). Take care. -- Emily | Community Manager


D. Ann answered...

I have no answers and a LOT of questions. In the last month my mom has been hospitalized due to a fall and then moved to rehab. We are bringing her home tomorrow. The more I read and study the more I can see the signs of Alz & Dementia in her yet almost every one of these things we have carried her to the dr for and they look for a dozen other ways to explain it.

I have a meeting with her family dr tomorrow and I admit she is at a disadvantage because she has only been her dr for about a year. She doesn't see how far downhill she has gone in just a short period of time.

I'm an only child and currently my parents, my daughter (divorced), my granddaughter and I all live together. My daughter has major health issues and my dad is in denial. That means I get the brunt of the load and the blame from my mom.

Reading the responses above helped me to realize how many folks are in the same boat. I hate it for each of us but it is comforting to know there are people who understand.


dara answered...

There are a series of emotions we go through with. Best thing to do is to call her doctor before going without anyone knowing and ask them to give her a memory test so as to test her mental faculties. TELL the doctor to not let anyone know you called- the doctor has to be the bad guy.. not you.. bc you are the one caring for her. Mine plays along.. although it took a little bit. You're not being dishonest.. you are taking care of your mom and it has to be done in a way without making it worse. They might try her out on a medicine that she has to work up to. Also, make sure they test her for any spinal fluid bc I've been told by my neighbor thats what her grandmother had.. it can cause the same symptoms in some people. Let us know how it goes.


msjoy answered...

My Mother takes an anti-depressant and Aricept. A good book to read is Speaking Alzheimers. It talks about the disease and how to give dignity to the person who has the disease. hugs mas


100% helpful
Jenon answered...

My mom is 85 1/2. I have been taking care of her since 2007. That entire time her nutrition and keeping/getting any weight on her has been my primary challenge. She is always telling me she isn't hungry and not to fix her anything, and raps her food in napkins then hides it creatively: In her inside folded socks in her drawers, the piano bench, curio type and other boxes in her closet, her large sewing box, etc.
I have come tried many ways to get nutrition in:

  1. The first time she wakes up to go to the bathroom I give her a Walgreen's Protein Plus Nutrition Drink. It has 350 calories and a lot of vitamins.

  2. When I have time in the morning (or later for a snack) I use my Vitamix to make a nutrition drink. If it will be a protein drink I start with milk (cow, rice, almond or hemp). Then I add: 1/2 banana, strawberries, blue berries, cranberries, grapes, apple, orange juice etc.; a variety of vegetables (carrot, celery, broccoli, cauliflower, beet, green pepper, cabbage); nuts (walnut, almonds, sunflower seeds etc.); sometimes I add wild honey. If it's her first meal of the day a scoop of protein powder or ½ cup of a cooked grain. I may also add peanut butter and/or chocolate syrup to some combinations.

Yes I usually put a little of ALL of that in, or at least as much as I have. That way she has a very nutritious meal. She loves ice cream and milkshakes so usually the fruit is frozen. That also makes it very affordable and waste is rare. I frequently end up with a couple of large glasses so I serve one, save another for later or the next day; and/ or if there is any extra I have it because I usually worry more about her nutrition then mine.

To prevent diarrhea (raw vegetables) or constipation (high fiber) I add a 1-2 tablespoons of flax seed, liquefy it all. Regular blenders don't make it into a smoothie consistency.

  1. I make a lot of homemade soups. I usually do a chicken or roast in the crock pot. Then I make a homemade broth. Our favorite soups are: vegetable chicken noodle, beef stew, and pea soup. That way I also get a lot of vegetables in. Mom loves them because they are always a little different and nutritious. Now that she is having more problems with chewing and/or just doesn't want to eat, I blend the soups with a hand blender or in the Vitamix and she happily drinks it with a large diameter straw out of a large mug.

  2. Homemade vegetable juices are also a very good way of getting a variety of vegetables and fresh herbs into the diet. I use fresh chard, collards, spinage, carrots, beets, beans, celery, onion, zucchini, cucumber, garlic, ginger, basil, tarragon etc. Often it turns into a V- 32! Mom loves it as her meal beverage; and sometimes when I am in a hurry I will use it as a soup base and add meat to it and potato or pasta. I've even served it over spaghetti.

  3. Ice cream, puddings, yogurt with fresh fruit added, homemade custard, peanut butter or grilled cheese sandwiches are hits with mom too.

  4. Mom loves to go grocery shopping during sample times. She will eat things there that she would not eat if served to her at home, so I have found it a great way to augment her nutrition.

  5. We always keep a mini food chopper of some kind in the car so we can spontaneously stop at a restaurant.

I hope this wasn't too long and that it is helpful.


diannaj1 answered...

My Mom is on Namenda and Aricept. We think the Namenda helped added to the Aricept but who can be sure. She has good days and bad days! Eating is an issue we work on everyday. Sleeping and not roaming at night has just begun. I am staying on top of that. Hate to medicate but will if necessary so we all get our rest. The comments and suggestions on here are awesome. Wish I had more time to spend on this web site!


An anonymous caregiver answered...

my mom is 84and really is going down hill fast. when she was in the nursing home she was off the wall. she was crying and people are hurting me and hitting me. I kept telling them it was the trazadone, and the other meds like Zoloft, serequel, Ativan. she cannot take them. suggested they give her a small dose of valium when needed instead. finally took her home with me and now she is a lot better without these meds. they sent her to the physc ward and guess they figured it out and tried what I suggested and it worked. the meds they give them are for mental illness not dementia. they have never been approved for dementia.


An anonymous caregiver answered...

Just lost mom about a month ago, but relied on this site to help thru it all! We couldn't get mom to eat either....and water was even more difficult. She complained about not being able to swallow her pills too. She didn't like to eat alone, but she did perk up when I brought her mashed potatoes and gravy and/or mac & cheese from KFC. She seemed to want to eat then, but not alone.... Water was real difficult as she drank a lot of coffee, but I would tell her flat out that she would get dehydrated and end up in the hospital with an IV if she didn't take in fluids and she did better then. Meds were toughest because she didn't believe anything was wrong with her......We treated it like a game with a toddler and praised her as well as gave her perks for taking them daily. We told her that she only had to take them once a day and if she took them now, she could forget about them until tomorrow....it seemed to help.