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 Getting Food to Mouth 
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Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:18 am
Posts: 276
Location: Washington State
Post Getting Food to Mouth
We're having some eating problems - actually getting food to my LO's mouth. I tried searching on this but most of the eating problems are with regard to choking. With my LO in an ALF that specializes in dementia, she is still too "with it" and too much of a lady to be fed by hand, yet she can't get food on a fork and has trouble handling a spoon. The apraxia and the vision problems defeat her. If I or someone else try to help she refuses to eat. I've seen her pick up her food with her fingers and shovel it in when noone is looking.

Has anyone found an eating utensil that's easy to see and easy to manage? Or do people in this condition eat in their rooms so they can eat with their hands? I'm afraid if she starts eating with her hands all the time she will lose any capability with utensils. Any ideas out there? Thanks. AnnieN

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Annie, daughter of brave Marie, dx 2007 and in ALF


Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:09 am
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Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:53 am
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Location: Ocala, FL
Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth
My mother who passed away in September at 104 ate with her hands the last three years of her life. I don't think that's unusual. She couldn't see well but she could feel the food and ate quite well. Why not give her 'finger food'? Mother ate cut up sandwiches and could drink soup. Of course, fruit can be easily eaten with the fingers....

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Leone Carroll (75); wife of Dale (75) who passed away March 23, 2011


Sun Nov 21, 2010 9:19 am
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Location: So Cal
Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth
Annie,
When my husband was in the nursing home for a brief stay they used weighted utensils for him, which are specifically made for people with Parkinson's tremors. You might ask them if they have some for you to try. (Ken has only a slight tremor but they felt he could control what he scooped better with them) Perhaps your LO can use toast or tortillas or other "edible utensils" to allow her to eat more with her hands but keep her dignity, or perhaps more sandwich-type foods. Ken is home and I have learned now, after much trial and error, which foods to cut into small pieces and which he will automatically reach for with his hand. He has a double disadvantage in that his right arm (he's right handed) cannot reach his mouth due to a multi-fracture to that elbow. He scoops the food with the right hand then transfers it to the left to bring it to his mouth, them sometimes can't get it that last inch so I gently lift his hand and angle it to his mouth. If your LO still won't eat much because of the akwardness maybe you could make sure she has a supply of those 'healthy cookies' that are packed with good stuff. Good luck, and please share if anything that I haven't mentioned works for her. Sher

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Sher (53) married 29 years to Ken (66) who was diagnosed with LBD in 2008, but it most likely began many years before.


Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:45 am
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Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:46 pm
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Location: WA
Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth
Annie, an OT would be just the person to evaluate her needs for eating utensils. Her doctor could order a visit for this purpose. There are a lot of great adaptive devices but each problem is different.

My husband doesn't have much of a tremor but sometimes has problems finding his mouth with the fork or spoon. And, being English, he habitually pushes his food onto his fork with a knife and turn the fork upside down to eat from, making it even harder. :|

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Pat [68] married to Derek [84] for 38 years; husband dx PDD/LBD 2005, probably began 2002 or earlier; late stage and in a SNF as of January 2011. Hospitalized 11/2/2013 and discharged to home Hospice. Passed away at home on 11/9/2013.


Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:58 am
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Joined: Fri Aug 11, 2006 1:46 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area (Northern CA)
Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth
AnnieN,

This is a neurological issue, not a muscular issue. Unfortunately people with dementia do forget how to eat. Some forget how to chew and swallow. This can be true even with the Oxo-grip-handle eating utensils. (I got mine at activeforever.com.) Doesn't the ALF have some of these utensils you can try? You might exclusively give her finger foods.

Is the thinking that your mother also has Alzheimer's? Apraxia is a hallmark of AD and some related disorders (such as corticobasal degeneration).

Robin


Sun Nov 21, 2010 1:54 pm
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Joined: Sun Oct 04, 2009 10:18 am
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Location: Washington State
Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth
I'll follow up on a bunch of these suggestions. I think the OT one and special utensils (I didn't know there were some for Parkinson's) are promising. Of course she'll be on her best behavior with the OT, but her best is no longer what it was. The standby for my LO when she's hungry is a peanut-butter sandwich. I can figure out other finger-foods for her. Something other than cookies and chocolate bars, which she always has around. Thanks for the ideas.

Yes, Robin, one of the neurologists thought she might have some alz with the LBD. Her memory has always been good but the debilitating apraxia was one of her first symptoms. Eventually, we'll know. AnnieN

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Annie, daughter of brave Marie, dx 2007 and in ALF


Sun Nov 21, 2010 3:01 pm
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Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:53 am
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Location: Ocala, FL
Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth
AnnieN wrote:
I've seen her pick up her food with her fingers and shovel it in when no one is looking. ..... I'm afraid if she starts eating with her hands all the time she will lose any capability with utensils.

There is something important that seems to be missing here. What does SHE want to do? Why does it matter if she does or does not eat with her hands and/or fingers? (She has apparently already decided what she wants - by doing it when she thinks others are not watching.)

I don't know how old she is and how disabled - but I certainly didn't try to 'correct' my own mother's eating habits at her advanced age.

And, in fact, I am quite tolerant of my husband's eating habits. He has trouble keeping food on a fork - so I often suggest and/or offer a big spoon. Why do we need to have all this 'political correctness' when it comes to eating? Why shouldn't food be something the patient completely enjoys? Why shouldn't food be prepared in a way that makes it easy to eat? We do that with children.

My husband wears a bib.... in public. So what. He is sloppy and drops food. So what.
Would it be better if I took some sort of special spoon with us everywhere we went? How about a dish with a collar around it. (I've seen those too.) I don't think so.

We are trying to allow these beautiful people some pleasure out of life, aren't we?


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Leone Carroll (75); wife of Dale (75) who passed away March 23, 2011


Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:14 pm
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Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth
Leone, you are totally off base here.

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Annie, daughter of brave Marie, dx 2007 and in ALF


Sun Nov 21, 2010 4:43 pm
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Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth
I'm sorry, Anne.

I'm 75 years old ... and I know how I would feel if my daughter was telling me how I should eat.


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Leone Carroll (75); wife of Dale (75) who passed away March 23, 2011


Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:05 pm
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Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth
mockturtle wrote:
And, being English, he habitually pushes his food onto his fork with a knife and turn the fork upside down to eat from, making it even harder. :|

Dale and I still do that on occasion - having lived overseas for 15 years. One advantage is that soft food (like mushy peas!) can be pushed into the prongs with the knife. :lol:

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Leone Carroll (75); wife of Dale (75) who passed away March 23, 2011


Sun Nov 21, 2010 5:32 pm
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Location: SF Bay Area (Northern CA)
Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth
Besides sandwiches, other finger foods we gave my dad (until he also stopped picking these up and stopped knowing where to put them once they were in his hand) were: sliced pizza, large chunks of fruit, and raw veggies.


Sun Nov 21, 2010 6:53 pm
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Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth
Dale doesn't think a meal is complete without his finger foods on the table. His favorites are dill pickles, any sort of olives, small carrots, celery, pickled mushrooms, pickled artichokes, and sliced cucumbers. I used to get tired of serving them at every meal but my sister reminded me that that's what he likes - so why not? I keep them in a divided Tupperware container from meal to meal so he can snack on them between meals in the fridge.

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Leone Carroll (75); wife of Dale (75) who passed away March 23, 2011


Sun Nov 21, 2010 7:44 pm
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Joined: Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:33 pm
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Location: Vermont
Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth
When a person is living in an ALF, there are certain "dignity issues" that can happen for some of the residents. At that point, the ALF will either have the person eat in their room, or eat in the dementia unit. There are some people at the ALF where my dad is who are physically (and mentally) still very healthy, but they want the companionship and ease of living at an ALF. These people want and deserve to eat in a place with acceptable decorum at their meals.
At his ALF, eating non-finger-foods with their fingers is a dignity issue and they will have the person eat elsewhere. A few months ago when my dad could no longer get much food into his mouth and it was spilling all over him and the floor, they started taking him to the dementia unit to eat. There, all the residents wear adult sized bibs and there are lots of CGs to feed them if they can't feed themselves. Some of the residents with dementia start taking food off the plates of others. This is also a dignity issue.
Feeding a person all "finger foods" may eliminate a lot of what the person actually likes. Some of my dad's favorite foods are tomato soup, mashed potatoes, applesauce and pudding. He's down to only a few things he'll even try to eat, and has had to be fed by others for months. Our LOs will reach a point where they just need to be fed and can't do it themselves.
Home, of course, may be a different story....... Lynn

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Lynn, daughter of 89 year old dad dx with possiblity of LBD, CBD, PSP, FTD, ALS, Vascular Dementia, AD, etc., died Nov. 30, 2010 after living in ALF for 18 months.


Sun Nov 21, 2010 10:32 pm
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Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth - Lynn
Thanks, Lynn, for your input. I do understand the difference. My Mother was in a 'Residential Facility for the Elderly' for four years with a maximum of six 'guests.' My sister and I thought our mother would be eating at the dining table with others. However, her eyesight was failing (macular degeneration) so she was placed separately from the others almost immediately. Because she could not see the food, she eventually ate everything with her fingers.

What I picked up on in the original post were two statements:
1) 'I've seen her pick up her food with her fingers and shovel it in when no one is looking.' and 2) 'the vision problems defeat her'. If she is not getting enough to eat, then perhaps other options will not work. My heart goes out to her.

I was not trying to be mean and I'm sorry that my post came out that way.

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Leone Carroll (75); wife of Dale (75) who passed away March 23, 2011


Sun Nov 21, 2010 11:52 pm
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Joined: Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:46 pm
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Post Re: Getting Food to Mouth
Leone, I don't think you were being mean. I think you and Annie were looking at it from two different perspectives, that's all.

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Pat [68] married to Derek [84] for 38 years; husband dx PDD/LBD 2005, probably began 2002 or earlier; late stage and in a SNF as of January 2011. Hospitalized 11/2/2013 and discharged to home Hospice. Passed away at home on 11/9/2013.


Mon Nov 22, 2010 12:24 am
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