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Wives with Alzheimers, and their husbands that cook for them...

Posted by Aunt Frannie on

Providing meals for your parents when your mom is the one with Alzheimers poses a special need for food when she was the main one cooking.

Today I was reminded by a friend of mine, that a while back I meant to share this information that I learned while helping my own father provide meals for his wife with Alzheimers.

About 5 years ago we found out my Step Mother had dementia, up until then she had been the sole preparer of meals for herself and my father. At the time my father was 88 years old and she was 81.

I live about 65 miles from my parents and although I have other siblings that live nearer to them I offered to take care of providing the meals for them. My other siblings were doing much more than I was for them and it was something that I would love to do.

So how to accomplish this task while living more than an hour away from them? This was my dilemma. So I thought that it would be best if I made them a quantity of meals that could be easily microwaved when they were hungry. That way they were easy for them to make and quick enough that they didn't have to think about them ahead of time. To do this it started out pretty rocky. I know, you can purchase frozen dinners at the grocery store, and they had been doing that for some time. But those meals are not "home cooked" meals. They are industrial meals. And after a while you get tired of them.

So I talked to my Dad and asked the kinds of foods they liked and went from there. My father isn't picky about his meals so I was free to try some things. But there were certain foods that they didn't particularly care for. They din't have any medical reasons for not wanting them they just didn't want them. For instance my Dad didn't eat red meat. So that cut a lot of options out of what I could make for them. Not only could I not make anything like a burger, or meatloaf but no spaghetti or lasagna either. Unless I substituted something else for the ground beef. But he didn't like ground turkey so that was out as well. My step mother didn't have any requests at this point as her memory had already gotten to a point where she didn't really have an opinion about what she had to eat. She would pretty much eat whatever you gave her.

I also had to keep in mind that they did have some chewing issues with false teeth so nothing that would be tough to chew.

With this knowledge I set out to come up with a different set of meals each month. I would make between 45-50 meals each month and once a month make the trip to their house and fill their freezer full of these meals. 

Each of these meals was a main course and either a starch and vegetable or two vegetables. I learned a lot about making things that they would love and want to eat. Some of them are home made soups so that they could mix that with a meal to share for the two of them.

My first thing was to find containers for these meals that they could just throw away.

And purchased them from here...

Three Compartment Microwavable Containers

I started with the shown sorts of plastic containers but they insisted on washing them so I had to find something else that would work better as I didn't want to make any work for them.

I ended up with the following containers that are made from pressed cardboard and even oven safe...


But the thing about these is that they are only available commercially. I purchased a special machine that seals them with plastic on top but they are also available with snap on plastic lids as well for those that don't want to buy the machine to seal them. I purchased them in two sizes, one that is a three section and one that is a two section. For different types of meals. If you'd like information about these containers contact me and I'll be happy to point you in the direction of those.

Typically I would make about 7-8 different meals and from that it would make about 45-50 individual meals for them. Since most meals serve about 8 people this was the best way for me. They might have some repeat dinners over the month but over time they could not repeat them so often as new dinners would arrive. These meals last about 6 months in a freezer. And I dated each so that if they weren't eaten by month 5 I would ask them if they wanted to eat them if not I would take them home with me and eat them myself in the next month.

I continued to make these meals for them for about 2-1/2 years. When my father became ill and was hospitalized. He recovered but we realized that someone needed to be with them for most of the day and my sister took over being with them and cooking for them so that they could have "fresh" cooked meals rather than frozen meals for a while. We lost my Step mother in May of last year, and 6 weeks later lost my father. But I learned so much in doing this for them and will try to share some of what I learned over the coming posts.

Each post I make will be determined by what I am learning or reflecting on that day. Today it was about Cooking for Alzheimers family members because a friend of mine has a daughter-in-law that is going through this very same thing now. So it brought all of the memories back to me this morning. And what wonderful memories they were.

I know this has nothing to do with the things I sell in my store, but my items are about family and this is very much about family. So I thought someone might find it interesting. Thank you for taking the time to read this and hopefully some of my later blog posts will be useful as well. :-)

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