Need Advice re. Mom's weight loss

  1. Recently my dad was admitted to a nursing home, leaving my mother alone for the first time in 58 yrs. of marriage.

    Two weeks ago, I noticed Mom was looking rather thin, and asked her to get on the scale. She was down to 105 lbs. (She was 5' 8" tall at one time but has shrunk a bit due to kyphosis.)

    Tonight, she was trying a blouse on. It looked miles too big for her. She asked me if I want it. I asked what size it was (we both usually wear a size 12.) I was shocked to find it was a size 10!

    Onto the scale again. She's lost another 3 lbs! I tell ya, I had to fight back the tears at seeing her so skinny! I didn't want her to know how much it upset me. She would start to feel badly use having us both bawling!

    I just don't know what to do. Both my brother and I have offered to take her in, but she refuses to leave the house she's lived in for 40 years. She gets Meals on Wheels 5 days a week, but she doesn't like anyone's cooking but her own ('I eat them (MOW) with long teeth', she says!)

    The problem, IMO, is the lack of companionship. Meals eaten alone lose their savour. I try to spend a good chunk of time with her at least once a week, so we can have both lunch and supper together, but it just isn't realistic for me to be there for her every day. I live too far away.

    Arrggh....what to do for a stubborn old woman, whom I dearly love??
  2. 13 Comments

  3. by   jadednurse
    If family is not close enough to take turns visiting her...are there any neighbors she's close to? Any social groups she could get involved in? And, I know I'm a little biased about the dog thing, but has she ever considered a pet? A little cat or dog might lift her spirits, give her someone to feed and talk to and chase away the loneliness.

    Most importantly, has she seen her doctor there a medical cause for her weight loss?

    I hope things turn around for her soon. {{{hugs}}}
  4. by   Tweety
    She's surely depressed. With good reason. Perhaps you guys should talk to her doctor about an appetite stimulant, an antidepressant, and perhaps some counseling.

  5. by   Tweety
    Also might had, physical causes of the weight loss need to be ruled out, another good reason for a trip to the doctor.

    Is your mom able to make frequent visits to your dad? Is dad in bad shape?
  6. by   karenG
    also might be worth checking her thyroid function? But got with Tweety- sounds depressed..........and I would be too!! needs TLC! but youre ahead of me on that one.

    thinking of you

  7. by   aimeee
    Is she a member of a church society? If so they might take turns coming to visit and having coffee and goodies with her while she gets through this difficult adjustment period.
  8. by   Jay-Jay
    I am planning to make a doctor's appt. for her as soon as I get back from a 4 day mini-vacation. Unfortunately, just around the time my dad was admitted to hospital, their wonderful G.P. of many, many years went into hospital for back surgery! I don't know if he's back yet or not. His locum has never seen either my mom or my dad, and does not have hospital priviledges.

    I think my mom has realized that my father is just not the same person she has known all these years, due to dementia. Flashes of the old personality are still there from time to time, and he still knows who she is, but basically, she's mourning him already. Yes, she has a church group, but no neighbours close enough to really care. She's always sort of stuck close to home....not many friends, and they are all elderly and not terribly mobile. I am going to make her one surviving sister, and her brother-in-law aware of the weight loss, and also call her best friend from church, who has a sister in the same nursing home dad is in. Maybe if I make EVERYONE aware, together we can make some sort of a difference. If everyone gets involved in trying to encourage her to eat, then the burden doesn't fall too heavily on any one person.

    To answer Karen's question: she has been on thyroxine for many years for a low thyroid. Will stopping it encourage weight gain? I know low thyroid can cause sluggishness and depression, as well as weight gain, so maybe it's best to leave well enough alone. I'm sure the MD will think to check her T4 levels when he sees her.

    Last Monday, I found out how much she loves ice cream. I took her to Baskin Robbins, and she treated my husband and me to a double dip! Planning to make this a regular part of my visits from now on! It's a most enjoyable way to gain weight!
  9. by   adrienurse
    I would guess that there is an element of depression that is affecting her desire to eat. Is it possible to involve her in a social program that would involve eating meals with others. If she lives in an EPH (elderly person's housing), is there an option of meal plans in a group dining room? Oops, no, you say she still lives in the family home. Is it possible to have a homemaker come in to prepare meals and keep her company?

    Being the kind of nurse I am, I'm gonna play the dementia chip. I'm guessing that your mother's elderly. Is it possible that there may be some cognative impairment involved. You know your mother best.

    If she doesn't have her own teeth, could it be possible that her dentures no longer fit, this certainly may happen if she has lost a lot of weight. Perhaps this needs to be addressed so that she can eat more comfortably.

    Tweets, up there talks about ruling out physiological causes of appetite loss. Is it possible that she may have had a small CVA and swallowing is slightly impaired? It is normal for the elderly to lose some of their sense of taste, perhaps the food just tastes too bland for her these days. Maybe the taste of her food is being altered by a medication she is taking. There are many medications out there that will do this.

    Please keep us posted. Hope you can both work towards a solution.
  10. by   adrienurse
    Has she had her B12 and Folate tested?
  11. by   Jay-Jay
    Gtreat suggestions, Adrien! Nope, has'nt had B12 and folate done. Yes, she may have a bit of demetia. She is extremely forgetful. But I'm guessing depression is the biggie. She suffers from macular degeneration, and can no longer read, which used to be one of her great joys in life. yes, the CNIB has provided her with a reading machine which magnifies print so she can see it, but it's big and clunky, and she doesn't use it very much.

    Teeth (dentures+natural) are fine. Her taste sensation is definitely impaired, and she tends to turn everything white with salt. We are trying our best to restrict sodium intake, as her legs tend to swell, and I'm sure it's sodium related. It's happened much less frequently since we made an effort to limit her salt intake.

    No signs of any sort of CVA. Her swallowing is fine, but she just picks at her food sometimes. Won't eat veggies unless they are cooked to death!
  12. by   passing thru
    My # 1 favorite suggestion for elderlies is ENSURE. I have personally seen it work miracles on people.

    It is 100 times better for them than a cup of coffee, a coke, or even a glass of milk.

    It really turns them around.
    4 cans a day, and you can eat whatever you want...
    donuts for breakfast and one ensure...
    soup and ensure for lunch...

    it gives them their strength back.
  13. by   passing thru
    P.S. I tell them to keep a can open,
    or in their favorite mug, and sip all day,
    when it empties, fill it up again.

    Not so hard to take 4 cans if you are sipping all day.
  14. by   Jay-Jay
    She was on Ensure following surgery for a bowel obstruction a couple of years ago. I told her last night that I was going to get her some next time I was in the drugstore. They even have a cooler stocked with it, so it's cold and ready to drink!