Anyone who has cared for the elderly knows the challenges inherent in the process. Especially when it comes to meal time. I can remember fighting back the tears when, night after night, I would prepare delicious dinners for my Mom only to have her push the plate aside and retreat to her room and eat her “hidden” Hershey Almond Bars. This went on for months. When she had recovered from her cancer surgery and was well enough to live on her own again, she would eat the occasional meal out but at the end of her life, her diet consisted of coffee, cans of Ensure and her beloved chocolate bars. My Grandmother was bedridden during her last year of cancer and refused most of what we prepared except for rice pudding and chocolate chip cookies. That stubborn German streak came out in full force whenever we tried to make her eat something “good for you.”
Years later, my work in hospice taught me much regarding the eating habits of the aged. As “care” givers, the last thing we give up is the urge to feed our loved ones. Like that mama bird with a worm for her little ones. We want to nurture. It’s VERY hard to let that instinct go. At the same time, the body of our loved one shuts down to prepare for its transition, it stops wanting food. Sweets are typically the last item on the list. I’ve cleared numerous homes for folks who have lost a loved one and am always amazed at the number of candy wrappers found in the bedroom. The 92-yr old tennis player and mother of four that lives above me is not suffering from any illness but she, too, has started her journey home and only desires ice cream and orange Cuties. My approach to all of this is softer and wiser now. I’ve decided that there is a reason and a season … even for sugar. And as a recent article in The Oregonian reminds us, it’s okay to let Grandma eat custard. Read the article now. Are you in the process of relocating an elderly person? Click here to read my special Handle With Care tips.