Sunday, June 18, 2006

Dinner?

Sometimes the elderly aren’t sure if they are hungry or not. Since there are a lot of foods that require chewing, the choice is limited. I suggest scrambled egg. Bea agrees. I scramble one egg and begin to feed her. She swallows the first spoonful, but I can immediately tell her appetite rating is about a 2 tonight.

“Tastes like egg,” she says. “Scrambled egg.” Her face wears an expression of distinct displeasure, as if I were proposing that she consume a bowl of fresh plaster.

“Perhaps you would prefer lobster?” I ask to get her attention.

Bea nods. She is chewing laboriously food that does not need to be chewed. If I turned my back, I bet she would spit out the mouthful and hide it under her pillow.

“I got you lobster tail last week. You had a hard time chewing it. Remember?”

Bea does not.

“We can try again, if you like.”

Bea nods, but not too enthusiastically. I can tell that this bedridden life is getting to her.

Next on the menu, a bowl of yogurt. She turns her head away after three mouthfuls.

I bring a piece of Cheddar. Bea opens her mouth. I indicate she needs to hold the cheese herself.

“Ice cream,” she says in a plaintive voice.

"Ice cream it is," I call over my shoulder, off to the kitchen for her favorite treat.

Bea doesn’t even finish the bowl.

Feeding elderly people can be frustrating, both for the caregiver and the invalid.

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