Dementia Diaries: The Fight to Feed
7/18/20 -- I feel like I’m fighting a loosing battle.
She barely eats. Sometimes it’ll take me nearly TWO HOURS to get her to consume 5 or 6 baby bites of food. I mean small! Like totaling up to maybe 1-2 normal adult spoonfuls.
Today getting her to eat a soft green bean casserole was like pulling teeth. Plus—with the methadone she just CANNOT stay awake. I told the MedTech I was having absolutely no luck and she brought up an assortment of soft foods from the kitchen for me to try. I really appreciated the gesture. She even brought up an extra yogurt for me! Anyways, those were the only baby bites I could really get her to take.
Just a few weeks ago my mom’s hospice nurse explained the “dying process” is a lot like the “birthing process”. In much the same way, a person who’s actively dying reverts back to things they did once they left the womb. Physical limitations often mimicking a body returning to the fetal position, transitioning from solid to pureed food, eventually only taking in liquids.
It is a stunningly simple comparison—and it couldn’t be more dead on. That’s exactly what it looks like.
I want her to eat, but I can’t help but wonder if I’m only making it worse really pushing it on her. Eating—especially at that level—isn’t really helping. She’s basically just consuming enough calories not to kill her. Plus, as caretakers reminded me today. Don’t force it. Try. But if she’s not having it don’t just put it in their mouth. Often they don’t want the food because they don’t even know what to do with it. Meaning if I try to put even a spoonful of cottage cheese in her mouth, just to try to help her along she could choke.
It’s a tough pill to swallow. Literally. I feel like if I don’t constantly push her to eat I’m holding back food. I know that’s not the case. But it’s frustrating.