How do I get my elderly parent to eat?

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Hi Sandraann,
When an elder's appetite lags, fruit, jello, puddings and other cool or light things generally go down best. Also, small servings are a good idea. Even a small plate could be helpful. Just try not to overwhelm the person with heavy foods or too much at one time. Think back, too, on what your mom used to like before she got sick. Maybe light versions or small amounts of those foods could help. You can ask a nutritionist for help.
Take care,
Oh man, this is a tough one - it's like dealing with a pickly little kid but it's easier for the adult to get away.. ;) As they aged both of my parents seemed to live very savory or very sweet foods. I often wonder if their sense of taste was dulled with age too. Both had allergies and sinus issues so that could effect their sense of smell which means a persons sense of taste is dulled too... Anyway.. here are a few ideas that helped:

teriyaki sauce - i put it on chicken, pork, beef - the key was to find one that wasn't too tangy or too hot. I made my own after a while, if you do that remember that the "tang" comes from vinegar so I avoided too much of htat The sweet can come from orange concentrate, honey or sugar. Store bought was easiest and Yoshida's was their preferred sauce.

Fruit and cottage cheese - this was a SAVIOR because it was lower in sugar and higher in nutrients. Canned fruit was easier to eat with dentures - their favorites were canned peaches and pears but you can also find berries. I let this sit out for a bit and warm up, they really didn't like it too cold.

Stewed tomatoes with fresh herbs. - we're Italian so this was always a staple in our house. The older they got the more salt they poured on so I removed that and added a few drops of balsamic vinegar and fresh chopped oregano or marjoram.

For desserts - I added pureed fruit to plan yogurt and froze it. Be sure to strain any seeds from fruit or it will get under their dentures!! and hurt.

Squash with brown sugar - again, more sugar but if it gets them to eat, that's better than NOT eating. It's still calories and unless your elder is diabetic or obese, you should not have to worry. My folks didn't have to worry about either of those conditions so I had more flexibility.

One additional note about my mom, I tried to get her to help me in the kitchen. While she helped she tasted, often by the time dinner came around she had little to no appetite because she'd already eaten! it was just fine with me as long as she was eating - who cares about the timing.

It just occured to me to ask - do you suppose it would be smart to leave cookies and other food on the counter for them to pick on? If you got one of those cook books that "sneak" veggies and protein into kids diets, perhaps there's a cookie recipe there and leave those out for your elder...

Good luck and let us know what works.
My mom is incontinent and diet is critical. She also has cancer in her mouth, so diet has become a creative challenge. There is a live in aid there and they usually do not like complicated food prep. My solution, till the next problem is to use lactose free cheese and milk, to use Ensure as a suppliment at the end of the day, and to keep the blender in good working order. All veggies get cooked and blended....mixed with polenta or grits or cream of wheat. This mix gets use as needed either in soups or baked in the oven to give it body. Potato pie, squash soup, chicken soup and rice...Whatever can be cooked and frozen so it will be ready in small portions. Planning was the key and providing variety also. Since moms only thrill is eating at this point, it is important to give what she likes and add a zip here and there. Her treats are watermelon and sherbet...french fries and hot dogs...So I make sure she gets that often...just turkey franks and chicken keep it interesting. Good luck...there were a lot of meals I took home to eat because she didn't want took a long time before I found what worked.
Lynn and TILDA have given good answers!

My hubby likes V8 juice and he always puts a few drops of tabasco in it. He has no sense of smell and that does diminish taste, so he likes to spice up his foods a bit.

Hubby won't drink Ensure, but he does like Carnation Instant Breakfast. And so every morning he has a hot chocolate made with CIB and milk and heated in the microwave.

And it is amazing how many people will eat ice cream when absolutely nothing else appeals to them. When hubby is feeling down and uninterested in food he will always accept a milkshake. Sometimes I add fruit to the ice cream and milk in the blender, sometimes peanut butter and chocolate sauce, but always I add an envelope of Carnation Instant Breakfast.

Good luck!
My Mother has no health issues, so she can eat anything, but she always wants something sweet. I make sugar-free Jello with canned fruit: orange with crushed pineapple and mandarin oranges; black cherry with canned pears; raspberry with fruit cocktail. Peanut butter oatmeal cookies with raisins, and mixed berries with yogurt or cool whip. Lite fruit yogurts are good protein snacks and sweet. For savory comfort foods: grilled cheese and cream of tomato soup, homemade macaroni and cheese, and roasted or stewed chicken with potatoes and carrots.
Almost forgot 2 other favorites: rice pudding with raisins, Bread Pudding. Ask her what were her favorite meals as a kid, and maybe she would enjoy those! Hugs:)
I'm smiling as I think of this. Hubby does not like the hot lunches provided at his adult day health program. I think he may have problems with tough meat and, for his tastes, lack of seasoning. So one day he askd for the vegitarian meal. He likes that a lot better! He says that other people seeing what he gets have suddenly become vegitarians -- at least at noon on days they go to Adult Day program. :)
I have thought before that perhaps there should be a Recipe Thread here on Aging Care. I am thinking of my recipe for PotatoBrocolliCheese Soup, and if you make it thick enough then puree it, it is so easy to eat, or to feed to someone. I'll try to post it later, but making lasagna for Father's Day, and have to run out for awhile. Vegetarian is easy to digest, too, Jeanne. Hey, Sandy! Hope you're getting some ideas, at least HUNGRY! Hugs, Christina

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