So one of the many challenges we now face is ensuring that Mum eats. Given that she is quite weak and struggles to swallow, plus the fact that she lies prone most of the time in the hospital bed, this is not easy.
You’d think, wouldn’t you, that coming up with a ‘soft’ diet would be relatively easy. Poor Dad is finding it quite difficult to think of things to give her. Mum, it has to be said, has managed the lion’s share of housework and food prep for many a year and Dad is starting to appreciate that shopping, meal planning and the endless round of cooking is no, if you’ll pardon the pun, picnic.
The other problem is that he is cooking separate meals for him and Mum and, now that her sleep pattern is erratic, scheduled mealtimes have gone out the window. She also needs to be fed as she can only use one hand so meals are a slow drawn-out process, culminating in the daily challenge of getting her to take her copious tablets.
When Mum was released from hospital it was all a bit of a rush. As I’m sure you know, there is a shortage of carers and the team did their best to get the best package they could. Currently we have 3 care visits a day from the Marie Curie Hospice and extra support from the ever-helpful district nursing team.
Ideally, we were told, there would be 4 visits but the trade off for getting Mum home for Christmas was that the care would be ‘non medical’, in other words, we’d have to manage the meds, plus feeding etc.
Until you actually experience it, you’ve no idea how all consuming and intrusive care visits can be when you are used to living in a marital bubble and controlling every aspect of your life. It’s fair to say that Dad has found Mum’s return home an upheaval he wasn’t prepared for – and me neither.
You have this vision, don’t you, of your loved one happily propped up in bed enjoying visits from family, watching TV, listening to the radio and popping the odd chocolate on the way to a gradual recovery.
The reality is a maelstrom of visits, tablets, washing, dishes, bowls, trays and pads which never ends.
We have, though, progressed from soup and cereal on to a semblance of ‘normal’ eating but in small quantities. The risk of choking is always a worry so Mum can’t be left alone and often when Dad takes Mum’s tray down she is asleep so he brings it back upstairs again.
If you have any suggestions for tempting soft foods for those who struggle to eat, please let me know!