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Ederly parent won't eat

chellej

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My dad is 93 and in general good health. He eats a pretty good breakfast (Shredded Wheat) and usually has half a sandwich at lunch but dinner is beginning to be a problem. He will not eat almost anything I cook. Even his old standbys like a scrammbled egg he won't eat. About the only thing I can get him to eat is cottage cheese. I have been having him drink ensure at dinner and told him he should drink one with his lunch as well.

I get that this is part of the aging process but I feel like I need to get him to eat more.

Anyone have any ideas????
 

vacationhopeful

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Several things might be effecting him.
Poor smell or sight.
Being tired at night - sundowner's - try getting dinner to him while it is still very light (sunny) or moving his biggest meal to lunch.
Snacking during the afternoon.
Lack of liquid (or exercise) during the day and therefore, his bowels are full.

The aide who stayed with my elderly Dad had him eat his meals alone. Doing so, he did not get distracted and clean off his plate. She put the food directly on the plate from the stove and put his plate at his seat. Then she left the room.

Just some ideas....
 

Passepartout

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I dealt with it with my mom. DW's struggling with her 93 y.o. dad. Same deal. He's lost 60 lbs he didn't need to. He is in assisted living now- for the last year.

He says the food doesn't taste good, but it's his favorite stuff. Can be a reaction with some of his meds changing taste/smell. I agree with the main meal of the day being at mid day. Ensure- or Glucerna if he's diabetic will help. All in all though, it's simply part of the aging process. I doubt he is feeling any discomfort. Sorry you are going through this, but it's a rite of passage for most of us.

Jim
 

Eli Mairs

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I have the same problem with my almost 95 year old mother. She used to have a really good appetite, but, in recent months, has lost it, and has been gagging on her food.
We give her either ensure or boost at every meal mixed with protein powder, since she is eating a minimal amount of food.
She seems to be maintaining her weight, but it is a struggle.
 

vacationhopeful

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Gagging on the food is due to a loss/losing of ability to chew and then swallow the food. Puree food (blendered food or baby food) where swallowing is the necessary action eliminates the chewing action - it is more natural to swallow liquid in one's mouth.
 

tschwa2

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Try using a food processor and pureeing the food. He may have mouth problems that keep him eating the soft food but he may be tired of his old standby's. Also we get one or two big containers or different flavor whey protein powder and mix it with soy milk (to prevent too much dairy overload). The whey powder can be blended with fresh and frozen fruits (sometimes I throw in a few carrots too) as supplements. We get one mocha flavored and one vanilla.

My 93 yo grandmother gets her own breakfast but would skip lunch unless someone prepares it for her and sits with her to make sure she eats it.
 

Passepartout

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To quote my mom after swallowing became difficult and food wasn't appealing, "I'd rather eat Pla-Doh." She expired fairly soon after that.

Orphan Jim
 

pedro47

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May I suggest you try serving smoothies or milk shakes.
 

Passepartout

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May I suggest you try serving smoothies or milk shakes.
Often too much dairy or sugar/sweetener for many elderly people. Eventually water needs to be thickened. That's pretty appetizing (not). When it came down to putting a feeding tube in my mom, she refused, and left those instructions for me (her PR).
 
L

laurac260

It doesn't sound like he "won't eat", it just looks like not enough, to you. But you are younger, more active, etc, so you want, and need more food than he does. Perhaps he IS getting enough nutrients for his age. Frankly he sounds like my 5 year old. Getting him to eat at dinner is a chore. They say that as we age we regress. So treat him like a toddler. Give him enough opportunities to eat during the day, snacks, whatever, so that skipping dinner is no big deal. Most of us have it backwards anyway, we eat a quick "on the go" lunch, then pig out at dinner, when breakfast and lunch should be our big meals, and dinner should just be something to nourish us and tide us over until breakfast.
 

wackymother

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Maybe ask the doctor if your father is getting enough food. If your father is eating and enjoying shredded wheat, it doesn't sound like he's having serious swallowing problems. Do you feel like that's an issue?
 

Beaglemom3

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All good suggestions above.
Been where you are before both as a daughter and a nurse practitioner.

Suggest that you speak with his physician for a quick check up and also obtain a referral to a nutritionist, preferably someone experienced with gerontological eating issues. A thickener may be suggested, but that would require a swallow evaluation.

Also, might want to have a dental check up whether or not he has his own teeth or dentures. Sometimes they cannot communicate that they're having difficulty.

You can only do your best and that's what you're doing.

Hydration with fruit juices, Ensure and a multivitamin (a palatable one if possible - think "children's vitamins") can help the nutritional deficits. Ensure frappes (milkshakes with ice cream to you non-Bostonians), Carnation Instant Breakfast drinks (with/without ice cream) are generally liked and are less expensive than Ensure. Seasonal Egg Nog is good, but can be very sweet. Whole Foods has a less sweet one at times.

Watch him for swallowing issues as to avoid aspiration pneumonia - a consideration here.

He's got you and he'll do fine. As will you.

Late edit: Certain medications can alter taste, too.
 
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Pat H

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The tastebuds becoms less acute as we get older too so food tastes flat. My almost 90 yr old mom still has no problem eating especially when she goes out. She complains about the food at the "home" being tasteless. They do eat their main meal at 1:00 and supper at 6:00. My understanding is that it's easier on the digestion.
 

joycapecod

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The tastebuds becoms less acute as we get older too so food tastes flat. My almost 90 yr old mom still has no problem eating especially when she goes out. She complains about the food at the "home" being tasteless. They do eat their main meal at 1:00 and supper at 6:00. My understanding is that it's easier on the digestion.
My 98 yo MIL eats like each meal is her last. She is all of 100 pounds and 4'10" tall and packs it away. She does heavily salt her food; it's a wonder she doesn't have a water retention problem (actually, just the opposite). At Thanksgiving, I swear she ate more than my husband! She does complain about the food from Meals on Wheels, but that doesn't stop her from shoveling it in.

She absolutely does enjoy having a meal with someone and not eating alone. She always sits at the table, has a full place setting, including napkin and beverage and seems to really enjoy her food. Her large meal is around noon, with a lighter meal (still protein, veggies and a starch, along with a small sweet; think cookie) in the evening, but her evening is 5:30ish.

She loves her "goodies" too. I don't think there's a cake, pie or ice cream she won't at least try. So far (knock wood) we have not had any problems with food or hydration.

Joy
 

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They gave my 95 year old Mom, who is in assisted living, a medication called Megace which really helped her appetite but may have made her more confused. She did eat more and gain weight while on it.
 

fizzysoup

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98 & Going Strong.

My 98 yo MIL eats like each meal is her last. She is all of 100 pounds and 4'10" tall and packs it away. She does heavily salt her food; it's a wonder she doesn't have a water retention problem (actually, just the opposite). At Thanksgiving, I swear she ate more than my husband! She does complain about the food from Meals on Wheels, but that doesn't stop her from shoveling it in.

She absolutely does enjoy having a meal with someone and not eating alone. She always sits at the table, has a full place setting, including napkin and beverage and seems to really enjoy her food. Her large meal is around noon, with a lighter meal (still protein, veggies and a starch, along with a small sweet; think cookie) in the evening, but her evening is 5:30ish.

She loves her "goodies" too. I don't think there's a cake, pie or ice cream she won't at least try. So far (knock wood) we have not had any problems with food or hydration.

Joy
Love it. Long may she live.:banana:
 

chellej

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Thanks all...He does not seem to have trouble swallowing, has his own teeth and we have discussed whether they have been troubling him. In general he just says it doesn't taste good.

He does like the ensure....I guess it is a natural regression as someone said. I often compare him and my 6 month old grandson....They seem to be converging. The last 6 months of her life all my mom would eat was bananas and milk ...I guess were getting to that point
 

pianodinosaur

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My dad is 93 and in general good health. He eats a pretty good breakfast (Shredded Wheat) and usually has half a sandwich at lunch but dinner is beginning to be a problem. He will not eat almost anything I cook. Even his old standbys like a scrammbled egg he won't eat. About the only thing I can get him to eat is cottage cheese. I have been having him drink ensure at dinner and told him he should drink one with his lunch as well.

I get that this is part of the aging process but I feel like I need to get him to eat more.

Anyone have any ideas????
I am a urologist who deals with numerous elderly patients. I assure you that this problem is not uncommon. However, it may be very complicated and multifactorial. This could be anything from drug side effects to a gastrointestinal malignancy. I do not know your father's medical history nor have I examined him. However, as a fellow Tugger who knows something about this, I urge you to bring your father to his physician.
 
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