Is Your Parent a Picky Eater? Sandwich Generation Dinner Time Stress

October 16, 2009 at 2:35 am 1 comment

I never imagined that I’d find myself at the dinner table trying to coax my mother to eat like she was a fussy toddler. That wasn’t what I was expecting when I joined the ranks of the sandwich generation, but there I was, sitting across the table from a pouty senior.

“If I eat another piece of chicken I’m going to start clucking.” 

My mom pushed her food around the table with a sour look on her face. I would have laughed, but I was too tired and too aggravated to let her think she was entertaining. Was it as simple as a power struggle? Did my mother have an appetite? Should I enforce “family rules” or respect her choice to eat–or not eat whatever she wanted? Was my mom’s nutrition something I needed to be concerned about? So many worries.

Like many caregivers and family members, I tried really hard to make my mom happy–and take care of her at the same time. I bought whatever she asked for. I cooked what I thought she would like–even if it meant fixing a whole separate meal for my family. I also had kids who were observing my mom’s antics., but they understood it wasn’t the same.  

Soon after my mom turned 90, I gave up the food fight. I decided that my mom could eat anything she wanted–or not eat. I found that not fighting with her made it easier to live with her. We went from grumbling and moving cold eggs around the plate to just eating rice and butter, or just eating pudding, or just drinking Ensure…and finally, my mom settled on Klondike bars. By that time, my mom had late stage Alzheimer’s. and I was grateful when she’d eat anything.

I guess my point is, do the best you can.

Our elders aren’t our children, and we don’t have to prepare them for a lifetime of good eating habits.

We don’t have to follow the rules, or make the rules–we have to adjust to what life has handed us. Sometimes it seems pretty crazy and chaotic, but I learned that caregiving isn’t about rules and shoulds, it’s a lot about intuition. 

I knew we didn’t have a long time left together. All we had to do was the best we could do.

What’s right for your situation? I don’t know because you just have to take it a day at a time. Figure it out as you go. Trust that you’ll know what to do when it’s time.

Don’t miss out on Dakim’s Dakim’s “Give Thanks for Loved Ones” Contest running now through November 5th. 

Visit Alzheimer’sWeekly.com for entry forms and contest rules.

Entry filed under: brain fitness, caring for parents, elder care, family caregiving. Tags: , , .

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1 Comment Add your own

  • 1. AT  |  October 20, 2009 at 12:18 am

    Food issues can be so frustrating. It takes time to prepare healthy meals and snacks. I like Carol’s reminder that our parents aren’t our children. We don’t have to teach them good eating habits to last a lifetime. And flexibility at the dinner table is good for everyone’s appetite. It’s a mental challenge to think up and prepare a meal. I’m going to look at meal preparation as a way to exercise my brain. And hope that the eaters find something to their liking in each meal.

    Reply

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This Blog

Hi, I'm Carol O'Dell. This blog will include stories and lessons I've learned while caring for my mom, and now as I speak to caregivers around the country. I hope to offer suggestions, ideas and insights that will help others.

While this blog is supported by Dakim Brain Fitness, I’m not blogging to promote the Dakim company or products. Instead, I’m writing about how caring and being cared for affects your life and your family. My hope is that this blog gives you a place to learn, reflect, gain new perspective to make it another day.

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