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When Mom Won’t Eat, but Won’t Say Why

Live-In Care Tips Pittsburgh PA: When Mom Won’t Eat, but Won’t Say Why

A Family Caregiver’s Struggle with Getting Her Mother to Eat

Live-In CareIt was only a few weeks ago when mom finally agreed to hire a live-in caregiver. I had noticed that she was struggling with certain things at home and had been talking to her about home care for the elderly for some time.

She kept telling me that she was fine, that she didn’t need someone coming to take care of her. However, there were certain issues that she could no longer avoid and since I wasn’t able to be there for her when she would need it most, I managed to convince her to hire home care for the elderly.

One thing that the caregiver, Elise, discovered pretty quick when she began working with my mother was that she wouldn’t eat. It wasn’t that she wasn’t hungry, because Elise knew that she was. It was that she was refusing to eat altogether.

I decided to sit down and talk to my mother about this, but what surprised me was the fact that she wouldn’t say why she wasn’t eating. I had noticed that she was thinning in recent months, but I considered that as a normal part of aging. Most elderly people that I knew, especially her friends, lost weight as they grew older. Yet for Elise, this was a serious problem. If my mother wasn’t going to be eating, then her health was going to be directly affected. We didn’t want that to happen, so I tried to encourage my mother to explain why she wasn’t eating.

No matter what I said, no matter what I did, and no matter how much I implored her to talk about it, she wouldn’t. Her simple response was that she wasn’t really that hungry.

It is tough in situations like this because we cannot force someone to eat or do something against their will. The only real recourse that I might have would be to take her to court to have her declared unfit to tend to her own well-being. I knew this was going to be a long process, even if I was seriously considering it, and that by then her health may be in serious jeopardy.

Working with Elise, we ended up finding some foods that my mother still enjoyed. There were some foods that were apparently causing her great indigestion or heartburn and she would rather be hungry than deal with those feelings.

For those who require elder care and are refusing to eat, it could be related to medication they are taking or the reaction that the body has to those foods now. Keep trying different types of foods and pay attention to those that the elderly patient eats. That way you will know they are at least eating something.


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Marta Baumann

Marta Baumann, RN is currently the Administrator of the Pittsburgh branch of Extended Family Care.She is a graduate of Indiana Hospital School of Nursing.Marta changed her healthcare focus from marketing and critical care to become a patient advocate in favor of allowing her patients the opportunity to remain in their homes. She is thrilled to have been working in her desired industry of home health and hospice for the past 25 years.
Prior to coming to Extended Family Care, Marta had previously served as the Administrator of a Hospice and Home Health Care company based in Ligonier, Pennsylvania as well as the Director of Finance for a Home Health and Hospice Company in Pittsburgh.
Growing up and living in North Huntington, Marta was pleased to accept the position within her local community where she can spend time with her son, daughter and two beautiful grandchildren.In her spare time, Ms. Baumann enjoys hiking, traveling, and spending time with her family.

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