Eating and Weight Loss

“There is nothing wrong with my appetite”.

I am moms legal guardian and health care proxy so I go with her to her doctor appointments.  We have the same doctor , and the same nurse has been there for as long as we have been going to this doctor.

“Okay Margaret, step up on the scale, be careful, I’ll hold your arm,

Okay , looks like 127” 

“I haven’t been 127 lbs since 5th grade” mom said chuckling

I asked the Dr. about moms weight loss, I was starting to get quite concerned. Mom has lost 25 pounds in a year and a half , unintentionally.

When they say you shrink when you get older they mean it in height as well as weight.  Mom’s height is hard to tell these days because she can’t really stand up straight. She is definitely shorter now that she ever was.

However, back in the day, Mom stood at an elegant 5’4” , and a solid 150-165 pounds- she looked great and healthy…. she was and happy too.  Impressive , after 5 kids, right!

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Bruce, the oldest,  must have been taking the photo

As she aged, like all of us,  she grew a little shorter and little wider.  Still happy though.

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Four generation photo Mom, Bruce, Stephanie, Nathan & Lucas

It was like everything else, a very slow process; her eating less and losing weight, it was slow enough that I hardly noticed at first that she was even  losing weight.

Before she started attending her adult  day care program, mom was home alone for lunch.  I was at work.    I began to  notice  that she wasn’t eating anything for lunch and sometimes for breakfast.  I would ask what she ate and sometimes she would say  “I must have had something,  I’m not hungry”. “You don’t have to worry about me”,  “there is nothing wrong with my appetite”.  “When did you ever know me to go without food?”

 I checked, no food was gone, no dishes we used.  

My mom always loved food and loved to eat, she particularly  had/has a sweet tooth.

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Never picky.

 So for her to be not eating and  to not realize she wasn’t eating was obviously  a real problem.  

I started making her lunches and leaving it in the fridge, telling her it was there.  I wrote notes for her to tell her   what it was and how to heat it if necessary.

 (she use to give me similar directions for dinner, when she had to go back to work and I was home from school before she got home from work, another post for sure )

 For her breakfast I would put a bowl, a spoon, and a box of cereal in her spot at the table. Sometimes she ate and sometimes she didn’t.  

After about a 6 months  she wasn’t eating anything for her lunch. She told me that she just wasn’t t hungry or that she didn’t know I had made it for her. (the memory loss was affecting  not only her safety,( earlier post), but also her health)

I had to figure something out.  Sometimes  I gave her the ensure plus shakes for breakfast.  The very helpful people  at the senior center/ council on aging in town, suggested I try Meals on Wheels.  Mom was so annoyed with me for setting up the meals on wheels  for her.  (of course she was upset, such an independent woman starting to realize how dependent she was becoming, but I had no other choice )

Meals on Wheels program  did serve a dual purpose also.  I worried about her being at home alone but with the Meals on Wheels deliveries,  someone would be stopping by at 11:30 everyday….. and bring prepared food. 

She had to eat and I was trying to find a solution.

I would often come home to find the whole lunch in the fridge, untouched, uneaten.

She sees the Dr. every 3  to 4 months now. Basically mom is  a healthy woman, however Dr. M  does keep close tabs on her, simply because she is in her 90th year.

“Okay Margaret, step up on the scale, be careful, I’ll hold your arm”.   

“Looks like 123”.

“I haven’t been 123 lbs since 5th grade”, she said with that familiar chuckle

My jaw dropped.  She’s lost another 4 pounds.  

Her Dr. did tell me that her cognitive state (dementia) would eventually affect her eating and/or her desire to eat or even the recognition that she was hungry.  This is something I never knew could be a topic of concern.  It is. A serious one.

Everything had to change……

She attends the adult day health care program now and they give her breakfast and lunch.  So even if she doesn’t eat a lot she has it in front of her and she will pick at it.  When we are at home I put her meals in front of her and simply tell her that her breakfast is ready, her lunch is ready, dinner is ready – we always eat together, I think that helps.  I make sure she gets something to eat.   

I make sure and keep cookies or sweets in the cupboard because inevitably when she is “full” from her dinner she always seems to have room for her sweets.

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Now 115 pounds, probably 5 feet tall,  she can eat whatever she wants whenever she wants  (wouldn’t that be nice?).  Sometimes we even have an ice cream sundae for dinner!  

sundaes for dinner

…and by moments she is happy.  

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