Eating less

So, just two weeks or so after learning that Mom was consistently gaining weight, I was told Sunday that she is not eating complete meals. I went to visit about half an hour before lunch. After the previous visit, when I was feeling a little out of the loop, I wasn’t ready to commit to anything longer for fear I would feel awkward again around Mom and her boyfriend and the other girlfriend all at once.

When I arrived, Mom and Mr. R were sitting together at a table. Not on the couch this time. I approached the table and bent down to put my face in Mom’s line of sight. She stood up and hugged me. So I was immediately more at ease. I said hi to Mr. R and he said hello back to me. Off to a good start. I sat at an empty spot at the table. I thought we might just chat or something. Mom seemed to think we might be going somewhere. I said I wasn’t going to take her anywhere, but that we could take a walk. She asked Mr. R if he wanted to go. He said something along the lines of, he must have to if Mom wants him to. Though he was perfectly agreeable about everything.

We set off down the hall toward the lobby. When we got there, Mom and Mr. R sat on a couch and I sat in a chair near Mom’s side. I don’t think I was very good company. “Anyone who wants to can speak,” Mom said at one point. I laughed and said I was tired and therefore not talking much. “I don’t have any news,” I told her. I asked her if she had seen any dogs visiting lately. She didn’t recall. I asked her about the little kids she sees from the daycare and she remembered that she likes that. She also had a hint of memory about having a visitor. I thought it might be a student working on a second research project, talking to Mom about her quality of life. I told her she is in another study and that I thought she would enjoy it because young people come to visit her and talk to her. “Yeah,” she said, sort of absently. She picked at her chin while Mr. R picked at his upper lip. And we all just sat there sort of quietly for a little while.

The dining cart came out of the kitchen and was headed to the program area, so I suggested we go back there so Mom and Mr. R could eat. We got seated at a table just as both trays arrived. “Now you eat everything, Bonnie,” said the staff member giving Mom her tray. I asked if she was having a problem. The staffer said Mom starts eating, but hasn’t been finishing her meals lately. I was surprised to hear this. I said I should probably leave so I didn’t distract her from eating. “If you stay, she’ll eat,” the aide said. So I sat down.

The lunch was meatloaf, mashed potatoes and gravy, and corn – a very good Bonnie meal. Plus chocolate cake with vanilla icing. Mom used her spoon and took bites of corn and cake, mostly. She drank some milk. She loves milk now. When she was almost done with her corn, I asked her if she was going to eat any meat. She studied her plate. “I’m just trying to figure it out,” she said. She took some bites, also with her spoon. I couldn’t decide what to think about this latest trend. She recognizes what she likes: the cake. She had no problem with the corn. Is a nondescript piece of meat harder for her to recognize than, say, a serving of corn for some reason? Is there a color issue? Does all the meat sort of look the same? I don’t think she has a problem with the taste. She has never really complained about the food. Perhaps it is just a phase. It’s really hard to tell.

Her mood seemed about as good as it has been lately. Though at one point, she said, “I’m distressed.” She rubbed her arms from time to time. I told her she has had a rash and has been treated for it and maybe that has made her itchy and unhappy. She didn’t agree or disagree. “I wondered about where you live,” she said. I told her I live just a few miles away. She seemed to make reference to change. I wondered if new people have moved in to change the dynamic of the center. She reminded me a little bit of the way she tended to feel in assisted living. Just a tad unsatisfied about something that she simply could not articulate. But not sad or scared. So I think she is OK.

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2 comments so far

  1. patwhite67 on

    I could empathize with you as you observed your mom’s manner of eating changing, especially her eating with a spoon. Our mom puts unusual combinations together. Last week she poured cocktail sauce into her ice tea.

    I admire your way of having your mom take the lead on how her time is spent. You always give her choices of what she might enjoy. I like that.

    I can imagine how it must feel, having the boyfriend always present when you visit. It must be like losing a bit more of your relationship with her as her daughter. I do hope not. Pat White

  2. Emily on

    Hi, Pat. Cocktail sauce and tea – that is a tricky one… It’s funny what you mention about giving Mom choices. Because sometimes, I’m not sure it’s a good idea. Sometimes I think she is overwhelmed if she has to make a choice. I try to say, “Do you want to…” If I tell her what to do or seem bossy, there is a good chance she will not like it. Thanks for the comment.


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