Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Musings on the Merits of a Yogurt Parfait

My Alzheimer's mom has suffered what is likely a urinary tract infection (UTI), and I've learned about the atypical symptoms that occur in elderly patients who have this condition. Withdrawal, lethargy, and a downward cognitive slide were almost certainly due to this infection, so, heads up to caregivers who haven't yet experienced this: sometimes atypical symptoms are the only ones exhibited by the elderly (which may throw you completely off when you are trying to figure out what in Heaven's name is wrong--they certainly did me!).  Recommended: an informative article about UTI's HERE. 

The Lord helped me out with this one because Mom came down with a cold at about the same time she exhibited the UTI symptoms. I didn't recognize the UTI but I did know that she is a pneumonia risk whenever she suffers a cold, and so we put her on antibiotics. And that cleared up her infection. 

And we all lived happily ever after?  Not so much.

The antibiotic gave my newly incontinent mother diarrhea. Those of you in the trenches of heavy duty caregiving with me understand the devastation I felt over what happened next.  End result: laundry was quadrupled, and caregiving became intensive.

Enter the yogurt parfait.

Yes, I know, this seems an abrupt change of subject (and, in this context, not a particularly appetizing one), but stick with me here.

I reached out for help to our area department on aging and asked for products and procedures to help with incontinence. After some stammering, an intern came up with this information: "There is a good medical supply store 90 miles from your location, would you like directions?"

Not helpful.

I called our nurse practitioner.  "Give her yogurt daily, and if that doesn't help call me back."

This, it turns out, was moderately helpful. Probiotics can help after a round of antibiotics, and yogurt contains probiotics.

I did a Google search for foods that will encourage a firm stool. (Love how Google search histories reveal what is going on in one's life.  When nothing much is going on with me my history has queries such as this: "How tall is the actor who plays Thor?"  Lately, they've read more like this one: "How to get an elderly parent to appreciate me").

Anyway.  Turns out soluble fiber can act like a sponge and help the problem I was desperate to correct for Mom.  And, oatmeal is a good source of soluble fiber.

And, people, I have to tell you that IT WORKED!  A daily yogurt parfait for 3 days and Mom is not only back to normal, she is BETTER than normal. ( Those of you who are in the trenches of intensive caregiving with me will understand what I mean).

Here's the recipe that is helping us--and as always a disclaimer--clear any dietary or medical advice you read here with your loved one's medical professional. What works for one person may not work for another.  This recipe is, for example, too high carb for someone who has diabetes.  Anyhow, here ya' go:

3/4 cup quick oats
2 teaspoons brown sugar
2 teaspoons. lite margarine, melted
3/4 cup fat free vanilla yogurt

Place oats in a cereal bowl, drizzle margarine over, press brown sugar into oat mixture until well mixed.  Add a little more sugar or margarine if you think it needs it. Layer yogurt and oats in a clear glass or cup.  

The oats aren't cooked and I think this makes them more effective as a soluble fiber source.  

Hope this post helps someone today, and to those who plow through these posts not because they need caregiving tips but just because they are kind and supportive people--please keep praying for us.  Love and gratitude to you and to our Lord. 


  1. Very glad to read that things have improved. These tips are very good for all of us of a certain age, I'm sure. Oh I laughed at your foogle searches...mine are equally odd.

    A blessed Easter to you and yours...

    1. Vee, I SO appreciate your smiles when I'm trying to be funny in the middle of a kind of odd post. Hope your Easter was blessed.

  2. Good to know Linda, I'm sorry you had to figure it out the hard way.

  3. Sounds like you found they key and I know you will remember in the future if you need it again. Good caregiver!!!

  4. I'm so glad to know you found something to help your dear mother. I hope your family has a lovely Easter.

    He is risen!

    1. Georgene, thank you. I hope you and yours had a lovely Easter as well!

  5. This is good to know! My mom suffered from multiple UTI's, and the atypical symptoms were baffling at times. Your recipe sounds pretty tasty too :)

    1. Thanks for your understanding. "Baffling" is a good descriptor for how I felt about Mom's sudden downward turn; perhaps I'll recognize the signs sooner next time. The recipe IS tasty, tho' I admit I do add a tad more margarine and also more brown sugar than I listed here! Thanks for taking your time to comment. Hugs!

  6. I can sure relate with what you are going through. My mom is completely incontinent and I am struggling with having to clean up the messes. When mom has a BM in the toilet, I jump for joy because I can RELAX. I've had to learn the hard way on how to deal with this part of her disease and it sure has not been easy. Wished there was a book that details every aspect of dealing with total incontinence...and experiences that we caregivers have had that we don't dare share with the public. That would be so helpful and would help us feel not so alone in the trenches of Alzheimer's incontinence. I give nurse aides so much credit and respect...because I know I could not do this forever. Sometimes it is so unbearable -- and it doesn't seem to get any easier. I know this is just for a season of my life. I am grateful today that my mom is still cheerful and peaceful, and she is still able to walk around. Praise God!

    1. Yes, Celia, there sure is a need for more information! I continue to look for just practical "here's how you do this" guidance, and am amazed that it isn't available on a handout or in some other easy to access way from our area department on aging. Thanks so much for your have my prayers in your caregiving challenges. Hugs!