When your elderly family member doesn’t seem to want to eat as often as she needs to, that can start to feel like an urgent situation for you. Her doctor may have some suggestions specific to her health needs, but these tips could give you a starting point.
Portions Make a Difference
The difference between a big plate of food and a much smaller sampling of the same food is sometimes the difference in whether your senior eats or not. It’s not as essential that your elderly family member sits down for three full meals every day as it is that she gets the nutrients and the calories that she needs. That may happen with multiple smaller servings throughout the day, even if she doesn’t eat a full plate at all.
Ask How Temperature Affects Her Preferences
Hot foods versus cooler foods can also make a big difference. Talk to your senior about whether she prefers a specific temperature for her meals and snacks. Those preferences might change throughout the seasons, too, so it helps to do what you can to keep tabs on the answer to this question.
Incorporate Foods She Loves More Often
There might be some favorite foods that your elderly family member would like to eat regularly. In fact, some of those foods might be so enjoyable for her that she would consider eating them regularly. Talk to your elderly family member about the foods she loves and do an assessment together about the nutritional value. If these are foods you can readily incorporate more often, it might be worth keeping them on hand more often.
Avoid Fighting about Food
The last thing you ever want to do with your senior is to make food any sort of power play. If you fight with her about food, it’s likely to become even less interesting and important to her. She may feel more justified in refusing to eat and that could turn into a situation in which your elderly family member’s health suffers needlessly. Make food a positive thing in your senior’s life as much as you can. Food can empower her instead of becoming a tool for either of you to use against each other.
Another idea could be to bring in elder care providers to help with meal preparation and other household tasks. They can help your senior to get the food she needs and wants at exactly the right time for her, even when you’re busy with other tasks.