What can I do to help my father who lost his appetite after several recent hospitalizations?

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My father had a good, healthy appetite, loved snacks and maintained a health weight. After 3 recent bouts of pneumonia close together, he has lost considerable weight and just has no appetite. He now also has a swallowing disorder and has to drink thickened liquids and soft foods which are not appealing to him. The doctor prescribed an anti-depressant as an appetite stimulant, but after reading the side effects my father would rather not take this medication just to increase his appetite.

He does not like the taste of Glucerna and we're trying to make him real milkshakes with an instant breakfast powder and ice cream (no sugar added). I've tried meeting with the nutritionist at the hospital but I felt they concentrated too much on managing his blood sugar and not on help with the soft diet and weight gain.

With severe COPD my father is not active so he doesn't naturally "work up an appetite".

Is anyone aware of any non-anti depressant medications to stimulate the appetite? Are there any natural ways to stimulate appetite?

I'd also appreciate what's worked for others to get parents to eat better.

Thanks so much.

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First, have they diagnosed his "swallowing issues?" Was this a product of his hospitalization (damage from tubes, etc)? Or is it muscular/neurological?

Mom has PD and it is sometimes difficult to swallow. I keep on hand things like yogurt, ice cream, instant mashed potatoes (that I "fortify" with cream and butter), mashed yams with butter and maple syrup, bananas, etc. I grind deli meats and added them to the mashed potatoes. Mom also likes hot chocolate every evening - she makes it with heavy cream and milk. It is also a good "relaxer" before bedtime.

If it is an appetite issue, use trial and error to find out what he likes and stock all these things and have them around. Whenever he shows an appetite have these "go to" foods ready. A balanced diet is ideal, but for now, he just needs to gain some weight back.

I do not blame your dad about not wanting to use pills that have side effects. I am a fan of naturopathy. If you cannot locate a licensed ND try a good health food store....the people there are such a great resource. Of couse, even natural remedies carry side effects and interactions. Ask your doctor and, better yet, your pharmacist about any supplemets.
good luck
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