6 Tips to Try with an Older Loved One Who Won’t Eat

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Strategies You Can Try When Your Elderly Parent Won't Eat in Sonoma County, CA

Food battles are something you might not have expected to happen in your life as a caregiver. While some seniors are just picky eaters, there may come a time when your aging loved one’s refusal to eat crosses the line and becomes a serious concern. There are many reasons your loved one might not want to eat, and you can try these ideas to address the underlying issue.

1. Look for a Physical Health Problem

A senior who has suddenly started to push his or her plate away may be developing a health problem he or she can’t explain. Your loved one may have a sore in his or her mouth or find it difficult to chew with a painful tooth. He or she could also dislike trying to eat if he or she has digestive problems. Look for obvious signs of a painful health issue, and consider having your loved one see a doctor if you cannot identify the problem.

2. Observe Your Loved One’s Eating Habits

You can also learn a lot from watching your loved one eat. For instance, your loved one may eat more if you sit down to eat together, and this is a sign that he or she needs a mealtime companion. Your loved one may also push the food around on the plate or take small bites that take forever to chew, which could indicate that you should try making the food more palatable. Increasing the flavor or changing the texture might make it more appetizing.

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 home care services. Santa Rosa 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.

3. Try Serving Meals at Different Times

Your loved one may be too tired to eat a huge dinner, or he or she may fear a stomachache will keep him or her up late into the night. Many seniors prefer to make lunch their bigger meal, and then they enjoy a lighter dinner. Try to find out at which time of day your loved one prefers to eat. Then arrange to provide more nutrition during that meal to maximize the benefits of each bite.

Ensuring your loved one gets proper nutrition when he or she doesn’t want to eat can be exhausting. Caring for a senior loved one can be challenging for families who don’t have expertise or professional training in home care, but this challenge doesn’t have to be faced alone. Family caregivers can turn to Home Care Assistance for the help they need. We provide high-quality live-in and respite care as well as comprehensive Alzheimer’s, dementia, stroke, and Parkinson’s care.

4. Help Your Parent Prepare Meals

If your loved one is largely responsible for preparing his or her own meals, he or she may be ready for a break. Seniors sometimes stop eating full meals when they’re tired or find it difficult to do things such as cut up ingredients. Ask your loved one if he or she would eat prepared meals. You or a professional caregiver can prep several meals for the week that your loved one can eat with minimal preparation.

5. Explore the Need for Supplements

Seniors who don’t eat for long periods or only eat a limited amount of food may need to supplement their diets. You can work with someone who understands the nutritional needs of seniors to find solutions to help them get the vitamins they lack in their diets. For instance, you may need to give your loved one vitamins or be able to sneak some healthy veggies into a fruit smoothie.

6. Provide Assistive Dishes & Utensils

Eating is difficult when the hands and arms aren’t working properly. Your loved one might just be frustrated with trying to make his or her meals work out. Try giving your loved one weighted bowls that are less likely to tip over or a fork with a hand strap to help him or her avoid spilling food.

If you’re the primary caregiver for a senior family member and you need respite care, Santa Rosa, CA, Home Care Assistance is here to help. Our respite caregivers are trained to assist older adults with a wide variety of everyday tasks, including meal prep, physical activity, and personal hygiene. We also provide 24-hour care and specialized care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. To create a customized home care plan for your loved one, call Home Care Assistance at (707) 843.4368 today.


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