What Can I Do When My Elderly Loved One Stops Eating?

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Senior Mother and Daughter Having Lunch

A surprisingly common problem among seniors is the inability or unwillingness to eat. When seniors don’t eat, either due to health problems or personal preferences, they can end up losing weight and becoming vulnerable to multiple health conditions. Here are some tips that can help families address the problem of senior parents who won’t or cannot eat.

Try to Find the Underlying Cause

Not all cases of seniors who won’t eat have defined causes. However, sometimes there’s an underlying issue, and addressing it may fix the problem. In some cases, a senior may not be eating because of physical problems. Digestive issues might make your loved one associate eating with stomach pain, or tooth problems could make the act of chewing uncomfortable. Some seniors may not eat because they feel depressed and lonely, or they may avoid meals because their food tastes strange or unappealing.

Serve Softer & More Convenient Foods

A lot of seniors start skipping meals due to mobility issues that make eating feel like too much of a hassle. Offering bite-sized finger foods can make things easier for seniors who have difficulty using utensils. For those who find chewing tricky, serve softer foods like scrambled eggs, oatmeal, and soups. Some seniors may particularly enjoy protein shakes and smoothies that let them drink their nutrition.
A home caregiver can help you explore healthy ways to persuade your loved one to eat. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of in-home care. Jefferson County families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

Add Plenty of Flavor & Color to Meals

Taste buds change with age, so foods seniors used to love can start tasting very bland and boring. You can enhance the taste of food by adding more spices to the meals you make. Some seniors may also undergo vision changes that make it difficult to see foods. Since visual appeal is such an important part of meals, this can affect appetite. Serving bright foods on a plain white plate can make it easier for your parent to see and appreciate meals.

Provide Plenty of Snacks

Seniors often have little interest in eating massive meals. One way to stimulate a senior with a low appetite is by frequently offering snacks. Pick things that are high in calories and nutrition, such as cheese cubes or peanut butter protein balls, to ensure your loved one is getting enough nutrition even if he or she isn’t regularly sitting down for traditional meals.

Ensuring your loved one gets proper nutrition when he or she doesn’t want to eat can be exhausting. If you’re the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality at-home care, Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age.

Eat with Your Parent

Many seniors lose interest in eating because they miss the family meals they used to have. Having caregivers sit down and chat with them as they share meals can help a lot. Seeing someone eat can often be a great way to stimulate a senior’s appetite and get him or her interested in eating again.

For families living in Jefferson County, respite care can be a wonderful solution when their aging loved ones need companionship and socialization a few hours a week or just need minor assistance with daily household tasks. At Home Care Assistance, we thrive on helping seniors maintain their independence while living in the comfort of home. For more information about our flexible, customizable home care plans, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (303) 987-5992.


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