Tips to Try if an Older Parent Refuses to Eat

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Ways to Try if an Older Parent Refuses to Eat in Tucson, AZ

Watching your senior loved one push his or her plate away at mealtimes again and again can be upsetting. Seniors sometimes change their eating patterns, and refusing to eat places them at risk for malnutrition. When encouragement is no longer working, you can use these strategies to help your loved one want to eat more.

Find Out if Your Loved One Is in Pain

Your loved one might be having physical problems with eating, such as poorly fitting dentures that are causing raw spots on the gums or a digestive disorder that causes his or her stomach to hurt shortly after eating. Observe your loved one for signs of pain, such as wincing. You can also ask if he or she feels pain. Once you identify the area of the body that’s bothering your loved one, you might be able to explore treatments that make eating more comfortable.

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

Spice It Up

Seniors often experience decreased senses as they age. Those who cannot taste their food may lack interest in eating. Try using healthy options for adding more flavor to meals. Fresh herbs and spices can transform an ordinary meal into one your loved one craves. Keep in mind this may involve using more seasoning than you might find palatable. As long as you use healthy ingredients, this is perfectly fine.

Try Different Versions of Favorite Foods

Your loved one may also need different textures if he or she has difficulty chewing. If your loved one refuses raw carrot sticks, consider cooking them until they’re softer. Your loved one might also simply prefer a scrambled egg over a boiled one. Try experimenting with different cooking methods until you find the ones that make your loved one happy.

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

Try Supplementing Meals

You might start to notice patterns in your loved one’s appetite. For instance, he or she might suddenly be hungry every day after exercising. If your loved one’s appetite tends to spike outside normal mealtimes, find ways to work with it. You could offer several small meals and nutritious snacks throughout the day.

Offer Options

Menu planning may require some creativity now. Try to think of the nutrients your loved one needs and provide several options on the plate. For instance, you could put an egg, some meat, and nut butter on a plate if your loved one needs more protein. If your loved one only eats one option, you can still consider it a win because you worked the nutrition in.

Keep Your Loved One Company

Seniors who have eating companions are more likely to consume more at each meal. Try to eat with your loved one when you can or provide a companion for the times when you cannot. Having a companion encourages your loved one to eat more, and you can also monitor your loved one’s food intake more closely when someone is sitting down with him or her at mealtimes.

For families living in Tucson, 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 you need professional home care for your loved one, reach out to one of our Care Managers today at (520) 276-6555.


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