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6 Strategies You Can Try When Your Elderly Parent Won’t Eat

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The first thing to do if your senior loved one won’t eat is schedule an appointment with his or her doctor to rule out serious health-related conditions, dental problems, or medication issues that could contribute to a reduced appetite. Once this step has been taken, the next thing to do is experiment with some different ways to solve the problem. Below, you’ll find six suggestions that may help your loved one eat.

1. Set a Regular Meal Schedule

The body is less capable of feeling hunger when it gets older, so your loved one may simply be waiting to eat until he or she feels hungry. But if you get into the habit of helping with meals at the same times every day, your loved one may naturally get into the habit of eating at those times.

2. Serve Smaller, Nutrient-Rich Portions

Some older adults won’t eat because there’s too much food on their plates. If you normally serve your loved one’s meals, make the portions smaller so they’re more appealing. Avoid creating nutritional deficiencies by serving smaller portions of foods that are healthy sources of calories and nutrients. Suggestions include:

• Fresh fruits and green leafy veggies
• Ginger, garlic, turmeric, and other healthy spices
• Finely chopped meats and cheeses
• Beans and nut butters

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 elder care, Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age.

3. Prepare Some Utensil-Free Meals

Your loved one may not be eating as much because he or she is having difficulty using utensils but doesn’t want to admit it. If you notice your loved one having difficulty grabbing or holding on to forks, spoons, and knives, prepare some meals with fish sticks, chicken nuggets, veggie rolls, and other foods that can be enjoyed without utensils. For times when utensils are needed, encourage your loved one to eat by using easy-grip utensils designed for people with minimal or weak finger/wrist movement or weak grips.

4. Make Healthy Snacks Easily Accessible

Don’t discourage random eating throughout the day if your loved one prefers this option over structured meals. Just make sure he or she avoids unhealthy options by making healthy choices easily accessible. Put yogurt cups in the fridge, fresh fruit in a bowl on the table, and homemade snack packs within easy reach.

Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of senior care. El Dorado 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.

5. Make Smoothies & Milkshakes

Your loved one may be more likely to eat if some meals are in the form of nutritious and tasty drinks. Try making smoothies and milkshakes that contain nutritious ingredients. Try these options:

• Banana oat milkshakes
• Rainbow milkshakes with fresh fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and mangoes
• Smoothies with fruit or frozen superfoods loaded with nutrients

6. Plan Meals Together

Your loved one may be more willing to eat if he or she is actively involved in meal planning. Sit down with your loved one to make the weekly grocery list or create a menu for the week that includes things he or she likes. You can always steer your loved one toward appropriate alternatives or variations if he or she isn’t choosing healthy options. Go even further and use some of the time you spend together to prepare meals. An in-home caregiver can also prepare nutritious meals during times when you’re not available. 

For families living in El Dorado 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. If your loved one needs help with the challenges of aging, call one of our compassionate Care Managers today at (916) 358-3801 .

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