Ma used to have a healthy appetite. It’s only in recent years that getting food and drink down her neck has become quite challenging. Health issues that make her reluctant to eat and drink include:
- incontinence – she hates drinking; especially water
- chronic constipation – she takes many pain medications which cause this
- dehydration – she really hates drinking!
Ma’s love of sweets is somewhat legendary. In later years she has developed a sweet tooth and would rather eat sweets than anything else. If I can get any type of food down her neck, I’m happy. Bread and Butter Custard, Creamed Rice, Fruit Pies with Ice Cream etc, have been her sole meal more than once.
I leave Ma with a ‘Yum Box’ when I’m away. The Yum Box has little bags and containers of food and drink. When I talk to her on the phone I remind her it’s there and she will have a snack.
With Ma’s constipation I’ve collected quite a repertoire of ‘fibre’ recipes which have proven to help things along. We also rely on the likes of Movicol and Actilax to help keep her bowels regular. The more fibre you can get into their diet, especially if they are on a lot of pain medications, the less likely you will need to rely on opening medicine.
In the beginning I’d try and get her to drink water; which she hated! The resultant fights were not pretty and even though she knew that not drinking could send her back into hospital, she still couldn’t/wouldn’t drink. I was told, coffee, fizzy drink and alcohol, all her favourite drinks, irritate the bowel and are best avoided… great!!!
In the end. if I could get any form of liquid down her throat, I was grateful. I now keep poppers, bottles of fizzy, cordial (already mixed), coffee and tea all accessible. She also has two small bottles of water she keeps by her bedside. When I give her her medications, it’s with a full glass of water.
She still insists that drinking too much makes her incontinence worse, so it’s a constant battle. I make sure I keep an eye on the colour and smell of her urine to keep a check on her hydration. The tongue is a good indication of this also, it will look dry, if they are dry. If she is dehydrated she can get confused… there are a few things that can do this unfortunately so it’s a bit of a balance in trying to get things right.