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helping a senior couple eat for health and mental clarity

 
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First, a little off-topic, one of the important factors in mental health other than a healthy diet, is socialization. That means that having healthy food potluck dinners is a win-win situation!

My son's girlfriend works long hours and hasn't been eating well. If my son's visiting, he'll often chop up veggies and freeze them in small quantities, so they're easier to grab, stir-fry and eat. He only does 1-2 weeks worth at a time, so blanching isn't as necessary. Part of healthy eating is finding ways to make it just as easy as the alternative.

Also, people with Alzheimers and similar tend to crave sugar. When my mom started having difficulty eating and was put on mushed food, we left the care workers a bottle of maple syrup as it was a long term favorite. The Dietitian was a bit perturbed, but a little bit drizzled on the dinner meant she ate some of the healthier parts of the meal - life is full of compromises so if you have to do something less than ideal, at least make it a conscious, informed decision.
 
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Timothy Markus wrote:You can now buy keytones, which may help with dementia.  Medical researchers who I find credible are skeptical that ingesting keytones will have an effect on weight loss have said that they could see them helping with dementia.  I've suggested it to my family, for my father, but they all think the SAD is fine, so it's an uphill battle.  He fell again yesterday, the second time in about 5 days, so maybe they'll get on board with giving it a shot.


Interesting tip about the ketones (sp? keytones?).

Yes, families who think the SAD diet is fine, and keep buying all the packaged, prepared, nutrient-deficient, inflammatory foods are certainly a familiar road block. I'm so sorry to hear about your father falling.

In my OP, the dunce cap picture came from a blog talking about how unhealthy Smart Balance margarine is. I didn't realize until after I created that post and sent a link of it to someone else helping this elderly couple, that is was *that* person who had suggested they get the Smart Balance! Uff. I really did not mean to be that obnoxious to them!

So...I tried to start with replacing margarine with butter (these are certainly ominvores who enjoy dairy products) in the elderly couple's fridge, though I'm not sure that even just that one change has stuck.

What one change might your family be interested in?

 
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Definitely ketones, sorry.  

My family isn't interested in what I have to say, so I've stopped saying it.  They're more likely to come to that conclusion on their own now.  I'm too radical for them in pretty much all my thinking, so they'll only listen to be polite.
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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Jay Angler wrote:First, a little off-topic, one of the important factors in mental health other than a healthy diet, is socialization. That means that having healthy food potluck dinners is a win-win situation!


Yes, I was thinking that might be a huge advantage of an assisted living facility for the senior couple I mentioned in the OP. A place where eating or meeting up in the dining hall is a regular part of life. I was thinking they would certainly enjoy that.

Jay Angler wrote:My son's girlfriend works long hours and hasn't been eating well. If my son's visiting, he'll often chop up veggies and freeze them in small quantities, so they're easier to grab, stir-fry and eat. He only does 1-2 weeks worth at a time, so blanching isn't as necessary. Part of healthy eating is finding ways to make it just as easy as the alternative.


How awesome of you son to do that!

The seniors in the OP now have run out of energy and skills to cook for themselves and are looking for frozen or delivered meals more and more. Which I think means their food quality has been sliding more downhill of late. I'm wishing I had time to can them a year's worth of soups, stews, chilis, and make some other frozen meals or prepared food for them. I'm not seeing a window of time like that for a while though, unfortunately.

Jay Angler wrote:Also, people with Alzheimers and similar tend to crave sugar. When my mom started having difficulty eating and was put on mushed food, we left the care workers a bottle of maple syrup as it was a long term favorite. The Dietitian was a bit perturbed, but a little bit drizzled on the dinner meant she ate some of the healthier parts of the meal - life is full of compromises so if you have to do something less than ideal, at least make it a conscious, informed decision.


This makes sense to me! I think there are healthier version of sweets, like the maple syrup, that are far better than someone wasting away or eating donuts. Healthy fruit sugars or maple syrup on some things can be part of a very good diet IMHO.
 
Timothy Markus
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My mom used to cook almost everything from scratch.  Now, at 73, she almost never cooks.  She's made fewer than 5 meals in the last 5 months.  She mostly eats chicken wings or cheese and crackers along with crap.  It's a big surprise to see.  She also doesn't seem to be able to make even the simplest decisions anymore.  She wants my advice on what to get every grocery run, buys produce that's already on the way out (she doesn't ever look it over, not sure if her vision is the issue) and buys so much that she doesn't eat.  
 
Jay Angler
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How about a human history reality check. When my great-aunt's husband died, she immediately moved in with my Grandmother and Grandfather and that would have been the 1950's. When my father arrived from England just before then, he lived with an unrelated family and paid room and board. My friend's grandmother in Nova Scotia lived in her cottage in the summer, with family visiting (ocean front - beautiful place), but went into the city in a room and board situation for the winter. I suspect that an elderly couple living alone and trying to cope is a relatively modern situation, but "independence" has been pushed hard since the 50's, and I know my mom fought hard to live alone well past when she should have and her diet would have been worse if my sisters hadn't been close at hand.

In other words, to a great extent we're dealing with a modern problem, so we're going to have to be pretty creative about finding solutions.
Timothy Markus wrote:

Now, at 73, she almost never cooks.  She's made fewer than 5 meals in the last 5 months.  



How do we ask our elderly politely, but firmly, why?
How do we get their mental status evaluated? Depression, pain, confusion, decreased vision etc. are all things which can interfere with meal-making.
How do we make sure we've tried within ourselves to acknowledge family history crap that could be interfering with our ability to help elderly relatives constructively, particularly when loss of frontal lobe function is common, and if they're reliving losses due to memory issues, or struggling with issues in their own history?
How do we open the conversation of what elderly individuals want to do with the rest of their life? A neighbor was just complaining (maybe not the right word) that an elderly friend with attitude, asked if she were to run across a field, would my neighbor's husband be willing to shoot her? (she knows he's a hunter - how many "hunting" accidents occur in a year?) But did anyone then actually sit down and use the "D" word? Do some of the elderly people who aren't taking good care of themselves actually have a death wish? Is so, again why? Do they feel they are no longer contributing but just taking up space? How do we change that?

OK, again I feel like I'm derailing this thread a little, but I come from a strong background in looking at the "big picture" - hmmm... no wonder I was drawn to permaculture! I think that's a really important part of fixing the food problem, and it's the part that we, as average people, have not been taught to do - possibly even taught *not* to do - don't be nosy, mind your own business etc. This may not have a place in the OP situation, but some of what other's have posted might have use of these thoughts. I do know that for people dealing with true dementia issues, the book, "Still Alice" by Lisa Genova is worth a read.
 
Timothy Markus
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My dad's got Lewy Body dementia and has had a huge decline in function since last September.  He's had other health issues and I had to help out a lot since that time.  We were very lucky to get him into a home as quickly as we did.  My brother, sister and I have tried to talk to my mom about her health and getting on a list for a home herself, as it can take 3-5 years in a non-emergency situation, but she refuses to even discuss it.  She can barely get up and down stairs, but she does so several times a day, even though I'll get her anything she needs.  Every time I worry that she'll fall.  In this situation, there's almost nothing we can do.  Her doctor wouldn't even agree to listen to us unless my mom was present, so we can't even tell her doctor that she's an alcoholic and abusing the opiods that the doctor's prescribing.  It's very frustrating.
 
Jay Angler
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@ Timothy - It is *very* hard not to feel frustrated when you're feeling powerless to make changes. Alcohol and substance abuse must be two of the hardest things to cope with both personally and within family members and I'm soooo... very thankful that we dodged that bullet in my immediate family as on my husband's side he had both an uncle and aunt who were alcoholics. Keeping you mom's nutrition as strong as possible would certainly help. Alcoholism has links to depression, so foods that are known to help combat depression might be an avenue to explore. Having someone you can get support from (caregiver burnout is a real thing) is also important.

When my sisters were worried about mom falling on her stairs, they bought those large foam puzzle-shaped mats and cut them to fit the area at the bottom of the stairs. They may not have been the in style, but a layer or two of padding might be all you can do!

Your mom may not be willing to discuss moving to a care situation, but you might also want to consider doing some groundwork investigating in case things change. When my sister's went looking the differences were immense and we were very lucky that one of the ones they'd decided would be a good place, came available when they needed it.  
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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When your mama is ill (on hospice's door) and the weather is warm, being a kitchen elf with these kinds of foods seems like the thing to do.

This is the start of lemon-basil chicken salad, with an avocado oil mayo dressing made from scratch. Fresh ginger steeping in the mug for switchel. Not shown are the two whole, organic chickens that I roasted this morning.

Gonna make cherry-chicken-liver pate tonight; plus broth out of the carcass. Tape and pen in the background to label all the things.

whole-foods-cooking.jpg
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kitchen elf whole foods cooking
 
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Jocelyn, please come and stay with me when I'm ill!!!

Just wonderful!
 
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I'm old myself, 69, but have been eating mostly healthy food since the early 20's. But for the people in more "mainstream" culture... it's not only their habits, but if you study all the TV commercials over the years, as I have done, there has been a very conscious effort by corporate "food" purveyors to demonize and mock "organic" and "health" food. So trying to preach it to old people not only goes against their eating habits, but they're predisposed to think of you as some kind of "health nut" trying to get them to eat "cardboard" and "bird seed".

The best way to combat that is not to analyze it directly and try to convince them, but do the propaganda in reverse, mock it (subtly). "Oh don't worry, this isn't the 'bird seed' diet."

Another point which occurred to me is that as Anthony Bourdain pointed out, in traditional cultures meat is eaten but in much smaller amounts than in the USA. It is mixed with other things. Think of Thai food, for example, or Chinese, with bits of chicken/beef/pork in among the chunks of vegies, all immersed in rice.

Of course this is all quite difficult if you're dealing with old folks with whom you do not live, who left to their own devices will of course continue in their old habits. The best way to address that I think is to get them to read dietary information from AARP, which organization they probably don't dismiss as "hippies" or "health nuts".

I still have some memory problems, but likely they'd be a lot worse if I were living on hamburgers and donuts!
 
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I've had a lot of experience trying to make nutritious and tasty meals for my aged parents. Thankfully, we were all raised to eat everything served up to us, but people still have pet dislikes which seem to magnify as they age.

One thing I have learnt is they tend to prefer a substantial lunch over a big dinner - think late night reflux. The evening meal may only be a light one - soup, crackers with cheese and tomato, homemade fruit salad, etc.

Judicious use of herbs and spices in cooking can remove the need for excessive salt, sugar and fats. In many instances the taste receptors can't tell the difference.

Although it's not something Australians traditionally eat, meatloaf can hide a 'multitude of sins' e.g. Steamed and finely shredded kale, Brussel Sprouts, spinach, carrot, thyme, turmeric, nutmeg, mashed precooked lentils, etc. A 50/50 blend of pork and beef is a healthier option. Certain European countries place hard boiled eggs in the centre too.

(Thyme is exceptionally high in a number of vitamins and minerals, particularly iron.)

I tend to buy ground meat from Asian (predominantly Vietnamese) butcher shops because they use very low levels of fat - shrewd Asians don't pay for fat! Don't know if that's the same elsewhere.

When we roast legs of meat, they always have multiple pockets cut into them and inserted with garlic cloves, rosemary, pepper and salt; then rubbed with olive oil and more salt/pepper before baking on a rack laid in a baking pan. The resulting juices, mixed with self-raising flour, makes tasty gravy.

Nutritionally, and taste wise, it's hard to beat with the typical accompaniment of roasted vegetables and greens.

Old people L-O-V-E gravy, so having lots on hand to cover vegetables 'makes the medicine go down'.

Leftover meat makes equally nutritious sandwiches - it can also be diced up, thrown into a frypan with a bit of olive oil, thinly sliced onions, peas, cooked rice, etc and served as another meal - brunch/lunch.

Hiding vegetables in things, or with natural condiments, takes a bit of thought - it can be fun if you're a crafty type of person.
 
Jay Angler
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Something I read recently suggested that lemon balm was specifically good for memory - now if I could just remember to make fresh lemon balm tea, after remembering to pick some in the garden, maybe it would help. Considering I don't particularly like the smell, hot water poured over a section of leaves and steeped for 3 minutes, is actually quite pleasant.
 
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My father is 75, with full on dementia that seemed to start right after a stroke six years ago.  He was a vitamin nut all his life, grew and raised about 90% of the family's food needs.  He was also a lifelong beer drinker, which likely factors in to the equation.  I wouldn't say alcoholic, but more of a chronic drinker.

My divorce coincided the same time as his stroke, so I decided to move back to the family farm and help mom with him and the farm.  I still keep the old garden beds going and keep chickens for eggs and meat. We still preserve,  so we still eat good.

About 2 months ago he was taken to the er.  Came home 2 days later with a pacemaker.  Technology is amazing, but I began to think about "quality of life" as opposed to quantity.

First thing he wanted when he got home was a beer.  My mother tried to fight it, but he got angry.  I told my mother to give him all the beer and ice cream he wants.  It's all he has that gives him joy.

He's very combative, because he's scared.  Mom is learning that her reactions are of no help to the situation.  But most of his time is spent cussing at the TV,  so that can be an advantage.  Just don't talk about politics with him.

I remember once when he was in his forties, he said to me, "when I die, I'm going to go kicking and screaming."  It was prophetic and I've never forgot it.

I'm not advocating just let them eat whatever they want,  but there comes a point when you have to realize yourself that you've done all you could to keep it from getting worse or reversing it.  It becomes a matter of comfort at this point for him.  Even through all the nasty comments and actions, I have found compassion.

Speaking of compassion, in the er the doc said that he lost the electrical connection between his heart and brain, which I have given much thought to.   The heart-mind connection is a powerful force when it comes to your health, science! has proved this. When talking health, people automatically think of diet and exercise, but a healthy mind is above all that.

Too much time is wasted thinking negative thoughts, not to mention that you're wearing your own body down by allowing your brain to release all those chemicals into your body, over and over again.  Look at the world today and its symptoms from an unhealthy mind.  Unfortunately, you cannot explain this to someone who has dementia, but maybe it can help you.



 
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So I just got a message from my mother; her boyfriend, who is 70-ish, has finally crossed the line from "watch those blood glucose levels" to getting a prescription for an insulin pen.
His doctor suggested watching "Forks Over Knives" as an inspiration as to how diet change could help him. He said he 'could only handle 20 minutes' (there's no animal cruelty in this film and he is a TV junkie, not sure what the problem was. I suspect feelings of targeted guilt?). So my mother thought of me, the used-to-be-vegan-health-food-wacko, to try to find some sort of magic bullet.
I really feel for them both, but I want to:
1- poke him in the belly and say, hey, do you not care enough about yourself and your girlfriend's future to even TRY something for a month?
2- ask my mother why she has not done #1
3- go up there and cook for them both. Sigh.
I watched my father get diagnosed with first heart disease and then cancer, respond to both with a shrug and "i'm going to die anyway, whatever", and then suffer for years.
He's young and relatively strong, but when I visit them every year I'm shocked at the way they eat (50% of the diet is sandwiches or hot dogs. The rest is chips and ice cream. Beverages are only coffee or soda.)
My mother is distraught, i'm not sure if it's the threat to his health or the threat to their paradigm. When I asked why they didn't watch the whole film (they watch 2 movies each day, it can't be that hard), her response was "BUT IT IS 100% PLANT BASED! THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE".
I went to look for a paper bag to breathe into at that point and told her I'd get back to her tomorrow with some constructive ideas. I feel so bad for both of them. Change is scary, but in the end it is ONLY FOOD. I would like to think that I personally value myself enough to try anything for a month, whether that would be intermittent fasting, vegan diet, physical therapy, acupuncture, or even chemotherapy or experimental medication if I thought it would improve the quality of my life and give me more good time with my family.
I'm trying to find a way to respond that is helpful and supportive while not being critical.
 
Jay Angler
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@Tereza - I hear your frustration. What's that old saying, "you can only change yourself"!
That said, a diabetic diet does not need to be plant based. There is a doctor in BC who worked with a group of Indigenous males with diabetes and mimics their traditional diet - heavy in salmon, *very* low in carbohydrates and sugar - and had amazing results. Avoiding grains was key, as was sugary vegetables like carrots. Traditional berries like salal and huckleberries are quite low in sugar.
It sounds like their current diet is based on "not wanting to bother cooking" - could that be accurate?  If that's the case, would they respond to healthy, balanced recipes cooked in bulk and then frozen in two person servings so they got the job over with in focused sessions? I did something like that when I was single - it was easier to cook for 4 and freeze extra than either taking the time to cook for one, or eating the same thing multiple days in a row.

Will they eat things like stew? We tend to call ours "soup" but stew is more accurate. Today's was curry based using milk and bone broth, and the neat thing is that I can hide things in it! Today I hid dandelion greens and some kale, which don't look that different than green onion (I use lots of Egyptian walking onion - it grows well here and it can be used to disguise all sorts of other "bits of green".) I used left-over home raised Muscovy duck as the meat, and my son was helping cook, so he added frozen green peas. We served it over brown rice, but my blood sugar tends to run low rather than high and I keep pretty active.

Alternatively, do they just hate making the decision of "what to cook"? For many that is a factor (one of my grand-father's *hated* to be asked what would he like to eat - just put it in front of him!!) Would they respond positively to you sending them a shopping list, and then sending them a menu + recipes based on that shopping list on a daily basis?  I'd suggest weekly, but I think at least in the short term, daily would be more likely to work.

Hopefully that might give you a few ideas. As much as your choices 1 & 2 might be satisfying to you, I have little confidence they'll do much good. 3 might work while you're there, but unless you help them identify how they got in this mess, I don't expect it to carry on, even if you show short term benefits, as they may also have decreased mental functioning, and decreased will to live. Many seniors nowadays feel they're "taking up space", "are useless", "have no role in society". That will be a harder problem to solve!
 
Tereza Okava
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Thanks for your reply, Jay.
You`re right, it doesn`t have to be plant-based. I think that might be the "easiest" angle for them, though- I think an extreme low carb diet might just blow their minds, and wild salmon is not in their budget.
I think the issue is quite frankly that neither of them want to/know how to cook and they both hide from any and all whole or unprocessed foods. My mother will try a vegetable if I cook it, her boyfriend will not ("icky!"). Neither fruit. He needs to get some fiber in him, cut down on the White Gick, deep fried Gick, and processed meat, and try to get some vitamins- basically he needs to introduce whole foods into his diet, there are literally none there right now. Also, exercise (whole nother kettle of wild salmon).

Sadly. #3 is the least likely- I live a continent away, and I already spent one month there this year. I can't keep going up there, and I know you're exactly right. the minute I leave it's back to the same old.
I want to have the conversation about what they plan to do with the rest of their lives but quite frankly, I'm not sure I will be able to accept what they have to say.
Thanks for letting me vent.

(soup/stew is good. I'm pulling together some recipes from sites that seem possible, like throw it in the crockpot, nothing too bizarre. They really need basic instructions on how to use these strange things that come from the dirt.
 
Jay Angler
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If you had access to a food dryer, drying really healthy stuff and making it into a "soup mix" so that all they had to do was put it in the slow-cooker and let it simmer, do you think they'd eat it? The trick with such things is to size each ingredient so that they cook evenly. I used to do things like that for camping, but it's been years. Now I just go and forage outside in and around the garden, chop it up and make soup - no point trying to dry it in my current climate!

Tonight I tried a "muffin" recipe that called for grated zucchini, grated carrot, dried tomatoes, and finely chopped spinach (which I don't grow so I subbed Swiss Chard which happily self-seeds here) plus the more usual ingredients, but no sugar. Very moist and definitely different, but if it gets Swiss Chard into my family, I'll be happy.

Tereza, I'd much prefer you rant here, than on your phone with your mom. Hopefully if you can get your anger and frustration out here, you can encourage your mom to consider your ideas and choose something they will follow through with. A lady I know who only learned to cook when her mom died, mostly makes "stir fries". She cooks a big pot of rice and freezes it in containers the right size to use, and chops up whatever is handy to add to it. It's a bit high in fat, but there's roughage and nutrition in it. It's what works for her. Hopefully, you'll find something that will work for your family that's an improvement over the current situation.
 
Tereza Okava
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Ha, I live in a place where my brilliant idea for drying food was also shown to be nothing except for a feast for mold. Oh well.

If there were drying, I would have to do it, and I'm a bit far. BUT it leads to a great idea, since they are both children of the 50s and are very pleased with frozen and canned food, and that is almost as convenient.
I'm going to chat with my mom today and see how realistic this whole business actually is. I think the best thing, quite honestly, is to back off from the 100% plant-based and go to the old "eat food, not too much, mostly plants", which I think is maybe on the right level to engage them.

Let`s see how it goes!! (thanks again Jay!)
 
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i may have gleaned this info from permies.. but thought i would bring up detoxing aluminum using horsetail (the plant)
apparently horsetail has lots of bio available silica
perhaps fermented could increase the effect like with mushrooms
maybe add some fermented lions mane mushroom in the mix too
i know it is not a meal but could be beneficial if worked into foods
 
Tereza Okava
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So I had "the talk" and it turns out my mother is willing to cook, the issue seems to be more of a "i'm 75 years old and i can do what i want" (which seems an awful lot like "i'm 5 and i can do what i want", but whatever....)

We set up the beginning of a plan, they are also going to get a nutritionist on board, since in the past he was receptive to professional help. My mother has already cleaned out the garbage from the cabinets (last time I was there it looked rather like a convenient store in terms of chips, candy, etc) and is now working on the freezer, which is more of a challenge (frozen dinners, particularly). But it sounds like a good beginning. I'm getting some cookbooks and recipes together.
Biggest challenge is the "adult shift" - when I go stay with them, I get completely mixed up since their schedule is so "off"- they have breakfast maybe at 9, lunch at 2, and then a snack at about 7, or else they skip lunch and have dinner at 4. I generally make dinner at about 8, and I start my day very early, so my visits there essentially involve intermittent fasting. Personal preference is great, but the doctors are insisting he go more toward 6 small meals per day, not 2 or 3. So we're looking at making a light soup at night, something like that. Good chance to sneak in more veggies and beans!
 
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Tereza Okawa wrote:

"i'm 75 years old and i can do what i want" (which seems an awful lot like "i'm 5 and i can do what i want", but whatever....)  

This is the emotional side of what you're dealing with - people who've been told what to do and how to behave all their life, who are now tired, or defeated, or are loosing some of their frontal lobe function or a combination of all three. It would be easy to think from a distance, "why wouldn't you care about looking after yourself", but I suspect there are deeper things happening.

If they're used to the "frozen dinner" concept, if you can manage to give your mom ideas of how to substitute "homemade, healthy, pre-made" dinners that work for their budget, I think that would be awesome. Even soup for a 'dinner snack' can be frozen the right size for 2 helpings. I've frozen bean dips before, and I know of people who've made "breakfast burritos" for freezing, but I don't know what they did for the veggie content. Good luck on your recipe hunt. Sound them out as to whether being presented with a "weekly menu" tailored to their own likes, would help them, or just tick them off! Most generic things like that have too many things that won't work for me, but I've planned for week-long canoe trips in the past and that worked fine because I was basing it on what I knew I could eat.
 
Tereza Okava
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Jay, what a good idea, thank you! I will definitely push the freezing half the recipe thing, since nobody ever said no to convenience (and I know that is a specific challenge for them)
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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The combativeness with dementia seems to be common. One friend's mother became far less combative on a healthier diet and a change in medication.

I'm not a fan of prescription drugs, but I have seen dementia drugs bring a senior citizen back from a psychotic break to near normalcy, without any real changes in diet. The almost immediate near normalcy (wow!) was such a relief that I became far more amenable to drugs for dementia after that.

I had not heard of horsetail for detoxing from aluminum. That is interesting. See page one of this thread for a link to some lion's mane info on how it helps with mental clarity.

I think there is a fine line between enjoying life, especially if it's looking to be a limited time, and optimizing life through diet. And we're all going to make different choices or have more or less control of ourselves in this space.

A friend of my former neighbor lost his feet, actually his lower legs, to not managing his type 2 diabetes well. I think for those of us who are so committed and knowledgeable about healthy foods, the idea that someone could eat themselves to amputation, or even death, is rather unthinkable. And yet, some of us humans are that broken, or that uneducated, or without enough support to be able to manage things well.

Baby steps are wise. Some times, just replacing a toxic sweetener, or too much sugar with stevia could help. Or finding a sparkling water or stevia-sweetened soft drink to replace the Coke, Pepsi or other drinkable vice. (If you don't think a stevia sweetened soda can be any good, then I don't think you've tried one of Virgil's zero sodas yet!)

Leveling up to helping folks cook a stew with extras to freeze (and from a distance no less!) is amazing by comparison - go Tereza!

Personally, I can replace a lot of sweets with dried fruits, which I use as a transition when I go through a sugar indulgence phase. The sugar tries to suck me in to "more, more, more! must have more all. the. time. !!" but when I feel that urge now, I can eat some dried fruit, then in a day or two, I don't even need or want the dried fruit so much. It doesn't rule me like more refined sugars do.

So...I couldn't watch Forks Over Knives either, Tereza. For a lot of reasons. While I do respect those who choose vegan or vegetarian diets, I choose and feel healthier on an omnivore diet. And it's possible a different movie might be more your parents' speed--this one:  Fat Head The Movie. The movie explains inflammatory and insulin risky foods and oils compared to healthy and less inflammatory foods and oils. Though it might not be available on Netflix any more.

Currently, I'm thinking of senior couple where the wife is wasting away...too ill, too tired to eat. So they are buying donuts, ice cream, cookies, pizza, whatever, to help her eat and keep some life in her. The husband is in early stages of dementia and is not near death, though he is partaking in all the inflammatory fun foods, too. Not good for his dementia. But am I going to attempt to pull the plug on the fun foods? No. Not right now.

 
Tereza Okava
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:
So...I couldn't watch Forks Over Knives either, Tereza. For a lot of reasons. While I do respect those who choose vegan or vegetarian diets, I choose and feel healthier on an omnivore diet. And it's possible a different movie might be more your parents' speed--this one:  Fat Head The Movie. The movie explains inflammatory and insulin risky foods and oils compared to healthy and less inflammatory foods and oils. Though it might not be available on Netflix any more.


Jocelyn, thank you so much for your reply!!!
I appreciate someone else's opinion about the movie, since I can't get inside anyone else's head I have little chance of understanding. But just hearing an affirmation from someone else is enough for me to just let it go and not take it personally, if that makes sense? (not sure how this can be personal-- i didn't make the movie. But that is how interactions with my mother tend to be. Yay baggage, and even more yay, therapy.)

I will totally suggest that movie. They use some sort of internetty mumbo jumbo that apparently gives them every piece of programming ever made so if anyone can find it it will be them. They are deep within soup season and every so often I get a pic of a bean-heavy chili or veg soup, and I'll be talking to them today.
 
Jay Angler
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:

Currently, I'm thinking of senior couple where the wife is wasting away...too ill, too tired to eat. So they are buying donuts, ice cream, cookies, pizza, whatever, to help her eat and keep some life in her.

I'm going to say something potentially inflammatory,  but it comes from both personal belief, and personal experience. The couple and their family need grief counselling more than diet counselling. The wife's body is trying to tell the world that it's done, finished, ready to move on. I would be looking for ways to help that couple celebrate the life they had, rather than extend the life of the wife artificially. Two hundred years ago people didn't have donuts and ice cream to stretch out lives rather than celebrating the transition. My great grand-father-in-law used to say that pneumonia was the friend of the elderly - it was the kind disease that allowed them to move on with some dignity left intact.
 
Tereza Okava
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I think your observation is valid, Jay. It's not bread (or bacon) alone that we need to live, as the saying goes.
The tricky part for me, at least, is finding the balance between that respectful distance Jocelyn talks about and asking the unpleasant questions that they may not let themselves ask or talk about (and they aren`t doing themselves any favors by avoiding. As the child who is going to have to pick up the pieces when things get messy, I have the privilege of a little leeway but I don`t want to disrespect them).
(as usual, we`re all trying to just do the best we can, and it ain`t easy.)
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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If you only knew the lengths they've gone to besides the donuts. Sigh.

Hospice has visited several times and offered services and...it's complicated.

I think we have this myth that people somehow become more noble when faced with trauma or death. I think we just become more human, flaws and all. Put another way, I think only a very few people are able to stay gracious, or be open when hurting or in pain (whatever type of pain that might be).

Counseling might help, and at the same time, it's not likely to make a difference when someone is in such enormous pain and fatigue that they don't know what day it is.

 
Jay Angler
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Jocelyn, I hear your pain and frustration. There's a reason some pain is called "debilitating".

That said, a friend's daughter was fighting cancer. My friend insisted she was "a real fighter" and that she "didn't want to give up", but from outside the box, I could see that the girl's real fear was that mom, dad and brother were going to fall apart when she died, so she was hanging on to try to delay the inevitable. It wasn't until mom gave her "permission to die" and "assured her that somehow the family would pull through", that she finally let her body go.

I totally agree that people facing problems often become "more human, flaws and all" as you've identified. I think they only become more noble if they've really arrived at Kubler-Ross' Fifth level of acceptance. I suspect that many people don't ever consistently reach that level (some literature I've read suggests that the stages are not a consistent linear progression, but that real people bounce around between levels as they go through an illness or loss.) All you can do is the best you can do, and supporting the care-givers, as much as the "designated patient", is sometimes a reasonable and useful goal.

Hang in there, try to do the best you can, and make sure you're getting support yourself for your own feelings and fears (OK, that last bit was bossy, but we need you and want you Jocelyn!)
 
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While caring for a mother-in-law with Alzheimer's, her doctor advised any means of cajoling, trickery, telling tales and even outright lies to get her to drink water as often as possible because sufficient intake of water (not just any fluids) could influence whether or not certain medications and diet relieved or improved symptoms, or made things worse.  His explanation was that water carries out toxins through elimination.  Without sufficient water consumption, released toxins can circulate with nowhere to go until reabsorbed and potentially worsen symptoms.  Ideally, she was supposed to drink plain water in ounces equivalent to half her body weight.

"They really can't stand kale, though they generally do okay with vegetables, soups, and whole grains or legumes."

Kale might be added to soups without much notice if chopped finely and cooked in with soups.

Kefir whey is great in soups for flavor, protein, and certain vitamins.  If added when the soup is cooled to about room temperature, there are additional probiotic benefits.


Regarding acid reflux... not finding an old 'go to' reference that combined explanations below, so here are these:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6509354/ (under Mechanisms of GER middle of 3rd paragraph)
"...esophageal acid exposure greater in the right side sleeping position than in the left position. Esophageal clearance is also delayed in the right position."

https://lifespa.com/amazing-benefits-of-sleeping-on-your-left-side/

Supposedly not lying down for at least 45 minutes after eating reduces and possibly prevents GERD.


Activity:  A few minutes of simple stretching in normal ways like reaching up, down, behind, in front, arm and foot circles.  Walking at a comfortable pace.  There are numerous geriatric exercise suggestions by physical therapists online.  I would suggest some that worked well for me, but activity needs to suit each individual.

About Terry Wahl.  I did what she did.  It would take a dozen letter sized pages in small print to describe beginning to end.  The primary difference is I'm not a doctor.  As symptoms began disappearing and doctors asked what I was doing, they wouldn't 'believe' me.  Believe.  Ha.  Right in front of them where they could see the changes, and it just wouldn't reach past their degrees and specialty expertise.  The best explanation any of them had, was I was mistakenly diagnosed.  Same with a watch and wait blood cancer diagnosed at the same time through specialists at three hospitals, tests confirmed by two labs.  I was told the deadline was 2-3 years max, realistically 1 year due to multiple conditions.  Now the oncologist cannot find my records.  Magical, isn't that? :)  I suppose if I were her, I wouldn't be able to find them either.  A doctor could lose their license with such a heavy misdiagnosis, yeah?  Yet I will posit she did not misdiagnose me, and neither did the other doctors.  All that was really wrong with what those specialists did, was say there was nothing I could do.  That laid me flat for a short time.  Then it fired me up.

Attached is Dr. Harold Foster's research, case studies, and scientific and epidemiological insights about Alzheimer's.  I never needed this particular information for myself, however his similar paper on multiple sclerosis was a big help with understanding and overcoming MS.  Between all the jargon used for medical professionals, is tons of practically useful information.  I hope his Alzheimer's paper is equally beneficial.
Filename: What-really-causes-Alzheimer-s-disease-Harold-Foster.pdf
Description: What Really Causes Alzheimer's Disease - Harold Foster, M.D.
File size: 871 Kbytes
 
Jocelyn Campbell
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That's amazing that you followed the Wahl protocol, Catherine. I'm kind of doing a drive-by post, without responding to a lot just because I want to drop these two links here.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4532650/


MIND Diet Associated with Reduced Incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease
In a previous study, higher concordance to the MIND diet, a hybrid Mediterranean-DASH diet, was associated with slower cognitive decline. In this study we related these three dietary patterns to incident Alzheimer’s disease. We investigated the diet-AD relations in a prospective study of 923 ...



The DASH diet is counter to some of what I have learned through other books and WAPF and maybe even Wahl's stuff - it's sort of a lowfat diet, and makes other recommendations that I would not. I was trying to figure out "what the heck" on how the DASH diet rates so well in most recent studies and I think this guy (it's not Sarah Pope this time) nails it:  https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/dash-diet/ .

 
Catherine Windrose
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Jocelyn Campbell wrote:That's amazing that you followed the Wahl protocol, Catherine. I'm kind of doing a drive-by post, without responding to a lot just because I want to drop these two links here.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4532650/


MIND Diet Associated with Reduced Incidence of Alzheimer’s Disease
In a previous study, higher concordance to the MIND diet, a hybrid Mediterranean-DASH diet, was associated with slower cognitive decline. In this study we related these three dietary patterns to incident Alzheimer’s disease. We investigated the diet-AD relations in a prospective study of 923 ...



The DASH diet is counter to some of what I have learned through other books and WAPF and maybe even Wahl's stuff - it's sort of a lowfat diet, and makes other recommendations that I would not. I was trying to figure out "what the heck" on how the DASH diet rates so well in most recent studies and I think this guy (it's not Sarah Pope this time) nails it:  https://www.thehealthyhomeeconomist.com/dash-diet/ .



What is more amazing - I feel - is that more thorough, practically applicable, understanding of nutrition is not taught in every grade from elementary years throughout high school.  All I did was read.  And study.  And practice.  I have no medical expertise and skinny math skills ^.^  But after I got rid of girly things my sons and husband wouldn't want, cashed in the IRA and 401k to split between them, and made funeral arrangements, there was nothing but time.  So I read everything I could find in English mostly about Indian medicine - here and eastern, Chinese medicine, African, Mexican, and random indigenous peoples' practices for symptoms at the time.  

It all boiled down to omitting toxins, improving air, water, food, and rest, and reducing stress.  When there's nothing to lose and everything to gain, reading about otherwise blah stuff and being my own guinea pig became "not a problem" and instantly fascinating ^.^  One of these days I'll edit the experience for brevity and post it.

Just back online today.  Lots of catching up to do with posts.  One thing I want to say for for now, is, if you don't mind Jocelyn, open those boxes of books and look for the one that has multiple copies of "Nutrition Tests For Better Health".  I had intended to mark that box specifically to your attention and remembered too late.

Happy New Year! :) ^.^ !!!
 
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