Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Nourishment Part 2 - End of Life Feeding

In the earlier post where I talked about feeding mom, the decrease in nourishment intake has taken her to eating somewhere between 500 and 700 calories a day.  When this change took place early in Dec. of last year, it was very hard for me to accept.  One of the most important things to me in caring for mom is that I made sure she had enough to eat and that it was nourishing.  In 2006, she could eat pretty much everything and drink liquids.  As the months past, it became more difficult for her to chew and swallow.  Foods would have to be pureed or blended, and liquids were drunk with a straw.  Soon the straw was eliminated, and all liquids were thickened.  Thank goodness for the thickening products that are available for those who can't drink the liquids anymore!

Most of last year, mom's meals consisted of:
breakfast - a nutritional drink made into pudding, a bowl of oatmeal or cooked cereal, blended smooth, and some applesauce or pureed peaches added to that, and thickened cranberry juice
lunch - yogurt, applesauce, and another bowl of the thickened nutiritonal drink
supper - a bowl of the pudding, a bowl of pureed homemade soup, to which I would often add two cooked eggs

They were meager meals, but she ate them well and they sustained her well.

But as of the early part of December, what I am able to feed her are 2 bowls of the pudding (thickened nutritional drinks), thickened cranberry juice, yogurt and applesauce.  Not all of it can I always get into her either, the pudding is the priority because that contains the bulk of her calories and nutrition, as well as her meds dissolved into them.  Water is also added to the pudding to get them to the consistency for her to eat it.

For the past month it has been stressful, feeling like I am starving mom!  This has been a concern for sometime, but her blood work always showed she was getting enough nutrition.  But now, it is out of my control, key word here, control.  This is a condition that there is no control over, so there are areas that we try to have contol over to help us feel better!  Mom is now at the point where her body no longer needs so much food, and she doesn't want it either.

The other difficult thing is knowing this is an end of life situation, her time is coming to an end, and this eating change is proof of it.  Adapt, adjust, deal with it as best I can, continue to move forward.  I have been learning some new coping skills thanks to Denise Brown of, and have been using music therapy more intensly now, it is helping during supper when I feed her, and while she sitting in her bed. 

There may or may not be a Nourishment Part 3 to write about, we will have to see......


  1. Mom is on a oatmeal, milkshake, applesauce ,yogart diet. I gave up on trying anything else. I have not used thicket yet. I mix applesauce with her juice and so far it is thick enough and she likes it. I figure that way she is getting more food. I mix yogart in milk and in her milkshakes. Yogart helps her from getting yeast infections. Something she used to get often. I put peanut butter in her oatmeal for protein. I want her to get that protein to keep the pressure sores away. So far no sores. Thank the Lord.

  2. Sounds like you have a handle on the diet. Have you tried Boost or another nutritional drink? Mom was drinking them long before the dementia really set it. So, we continued with it and they more and more became her foundation of nutrition that we added to. We use either Boost, or Equate which is Wal-mart's brand, or Ensure if someone else buys it, and also Walgreen's nutritional drink. She has gone from 3 a day down to 2 plus whatever else I can get in her of the yogurt, applesauce and of course the cranberry juice for to keep her from getting bladder or urinary track infections.
    There are some calories in the thickening products too which helps.
    Mom had some sores last spring which really shook me up. The Dr. got hospice for us, and with the electric bed and air mattress, and ointments/changing sides she layed on, I got them cleared up. I recently treated one on her heel, a blister had formed, so hospice gave me skin prep which you rub on the area twice a day, it worked, and healed up. After working in nursing homes years ago, and seeing awful bed sores, I can not in anyway tolerate them showing up on mom!