6 Things to Do if Your Aging Parent Won’t Eat

By 9  am On


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

Seniors who have suddenly started to push their food away may be developing a health condition they can’t explain. They may have sores in their mouths or find it difficult to chew with painful teeth. Your loved one might 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 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 you should try making the food more palatable. Enhancing 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 in-home care. You can rely on Assisting Hands Home Care to provide an individualized care plan to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our caregivers help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits, such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, maintaining strong social ties, and engaging in mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

3. Try Serving Meals at Different Times

Some seniors may be too tired to eat huge dinners, or they may fear stomachaches will keep them up late into the night. Many seniors prefer to make lunch their bigger meal and enjoy a lighter dinner. Try to find out at what 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. If you’re the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality home care, Arlington Assisting Hands Home Care can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age.

4. Help Your Parent Prepare Meals

Seniors who are largely responsible for preparing their own meals may be ready for a break. Some aging adults 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 prepare 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 your parent get the nutrients he or she needs. For instance, you may need to give your loved one vitamin supplements or 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 avoid spilling food. 

If you’re the primary caregiver for a senior family member and you need home care, Arlington, VA, Assisting Hands Home Care is here to help. Our 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 specialized care for seniors with Alzheimer’s, dementia, and Parkinson’s. Call Assisting Hands Home Care today at (703) 988-1800 to learn about our high-quality in-home care services.