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Old 05-27-2014, 04:09 PM
 
Location: Tucson for awhile longer
8,874 posts, read 12,917,566 times
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Welcome to the wonderful world of cooking for senior citizens. My mother moved in with me nearly 10 years ago when she became disabled and could no longer maintain her home. She was never a good cook but she seemed to enjoy eating. I, on the other hand,am the best cook in our extended family, so she initially viewed one of the more positive aspects of living in my house as having food prepared for her.

Until I actually had been doing it for awhile.

Then she started with the "you put in too much salt/pepper/garlic/etc.," "I don't like onions/rosemary/basil/cilantro/sage/oregano/etc.," "I can't eat peppers/anything dairy/anything with sauce/anything acidic." She started out not liking any fish or shellfish of any kind, very few vegetables, and no meat except white meat chicken and beef (both of which she wanted to be very well-done). She says turkey "tastes funny."

The topper was when I made a big pot of chicken soup. I came home from work the next day eager to eat some even though it lacked many of the ingredients I usually put in soup. It wasn't in the fridge. "Where's my soup?" I asked. The answer, "It tasted weird so I threw it out. It must have turned." In one day?

I finally went with her to her doctor and explained my frustrations. She went through a long list of foods with us and we basically came to the conclusion that my mother wanted to subsist on a diet of cereal, bread, snacks like crackers and pretzels, and sweets. She still eats peanut butter, baked chicken breasts, and rice. The doctor took me aside and said, "She's almost 90. She hasn't killed herself yet. Take her to the supermarket, let her pick out what she wants and stop trying to get her to eat healthy meals. She's never going to and trying to make her is driving you nuts."

She also told me that it wasn't good for me to be waiting on my mother so much. She said it would improve her physical and mental functioning to have to be responsible to feed herself and not be served food. She explained that the complaints my mother experiences are common in the elderly due to digestive functions that deteriorate as we age and also because many medications commonly prescribed to seniors effect the functioning of their taste buds. Many elderly people (my mother included) also lose their sense of smell, another enhancement to dining.

So I keep the refrigerator and pantry well-stocked with the few foods my mother deems edible. I always keep cooked rice and baked chicken breasts in the fridge because she will eat those. I keep an eye on her to make sure she has ingested enough food each day. Once a month I take her to a market with a huge selection of prepared items she can put in the microwave and let her choose anything she thinks she would like. I have special dishes for her that are safe for her to use in the microwave.

I realize your husband is not to the point where we are. But he seems to be starting on the path my mother began down ten years ago. And if you have been serving him his meals all through your marriage, this could possibly have an emotional impact far beyond the issue of menus. I sincerely felt my mother used a lot of her food issues to express her frustration with our current living arrangement, even though she chose it over an assisted living apartment or moving in with one of my siblings. I regret to predict you will have much more of this fussiness to deal with in the future. Get the doctor involved at an early time and don't think this is any reflection on your cooking skills.
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Old 05-27-2014, 06:10 PM
 
Location: Chapel Hill, N.C.
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Jukesgrll--I can certainly relate. My mother lived with us for 10 years till her dementia got so bad I had to put her in assisted living. At the very beginning she came up behind me while I was at the stove, put her arms around my neck and said "Wouldn't you hate to have some old lady coming up behind you second guessing everything you did in the kitchen?" We laughed and I said "I'm gonna hold you to those words".

She was such a nervous wreck she barely set foot in the kitchen except to make a sandwich for her lunch. I'm very thankful she never came behind my back to add salt and pepper like some do. I think she tried it once or twice and my husband gently led her to another room saying "She doesn't do well with somebody watching her cook."

I'm 68 but I haven't noticed too much change in my taste except I crave garlic in almost everything while I used to be afraid of it.
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