Are there ways to increase my mother's appetite?

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My 72 y/o mother was diagnosed with pleural infusion (a case where the lungs accumulated water) and just undergone thoracentesis and bronchoscopy. Actually, prior to these she had just lost her appetite and until now she couldn't eat regularly. I really don't know what to do. The doctors didn't give any medications to increase her appetite. My mother is loosing lots of weight and its very alarming for me. Thank You.

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Top Answer
Hi there. My mom weighed about 109 (5'5") when I started caring for her. Her dr gave her Megace and she now weighs about 116, which is an improvement. Also, I started leaving a lot of nuts and other snacks like Chex Mix, etc. I think snacking is easier than eating a meal. Try the Megace; Good luck! Tonio:-)
In addition to the above, my father had many health issues and had tremendous weight loss. When he was in rehab., they started giving him "Ensure" liquid supplement. He loved it; especially because it tastes good and comes in different flavors. It is high in caloric intake and nutrients. I continued to buy if for him when he went home. It comes in a six-pack of 1 serving per can. You can buy it at CVS or the grocery store. Hope your Mom improves. Take care.

Of all the odd things, we have found small red plates to be helpful for my mom. My dad was exceedingly thin in the last years of his life and said things didn't taste good to him, no appitite. Also, his teeth bothered him, with a poorly fit partial, which he would not have properly corrected. Dental problems often contribute to eating difficulty for seniors, so soft, bland or smooth foods sometimes help. Dr. prescribed liquid supplements like ensure/boost, etc. which he didn't love, but tolerated if he stuck them in freezer for a short time before eating. We also had luck with higher calorie and sweet offerings-milkshakes, carrot muffins, smoothies w/ organic yoghurt, agave or honey and fresh fruits (always including a banana for texture), sweet rolls, fruit pies. We could often get him to eat soups too, homemade especially. Chicken pot pie from a slow food restaurant reminded him of his mom's from childhood, and we could usually get him to eat them pretty well. He would also eat nicely prepared and presented fresh fruits that were in season. Omelets with fresh veggies,cheese and ham along with fresh mixed fruit garnishes (grapes, half orange slices, few berries), toast and applebutter or black raspberry jam have gone over well for both of my parents. Also, frozen food section Mrs. Smith's black raspberry cobbler, warm, with some vanilla ice cream on top. At a certain point we worried more about adding calories than overall best nutrition practices. Some people add things like flax seed (ground) wheat germ, whey proteins or oats to other foods to boost nutrients. Good luck; hope you find a thing or two here that will work for you to help your mom improve. Kim
Megace is great.
If they can read the box, you kinda need to hide it as Megace is often given to cancer and AIDS patients for appetite enhancer. My mom was convinced that she had cancer because it said so on the insert.....

My mom is also on Remeron - it;s an old-school anti anxiety med that also has an appetite enhancer component. So in addition to allowing her to relax and sleep better it also helps her to eat a bit more.

If they drop more than 10% in weight in 30 days, this can be used to get them into a NH should you need to do that. My mom was in IL and lost like 18% of body weight from one 6 week visit to another. So this combined with a critical h & h levels, she was able to get into a NH and bypass moving to AL. Weight loss can also be used to evaluate her for at-home hospice care as she may be in the failure to thrive stage of her life. None of this is easy. Good luck.
Ice cream.

When my husband doesn't feel like eating and I ask if a milkshake sounds good, the answer is almost always yes. I start with a bottle of Boost or a hi-protein yogurt smoothie (neither of which he will drink by itself), or a Carnation Instant Breakfast in milk, add a couple scoops of ice cream, and something of compatible flavor. Into the yogurt smoothies I add fresh strawberries and/or raspberries and/or frozen blueberries. Into a vanilla Boost might go canned peaches. A chocolate instant breakfast might get a banana and peanut butter. Zizz it altogether in the blender. So Hubby doesn't get "lunch" but he is able to consume about the same number of calories, and at least some nutrition.

A couple of scoops of ice cream add some appeal and calories to a tall glass of rootbeer. A plain dish of ice cream, or with strawberries, or with strawberries and chocolate sauce and a few nuts, seems more appealing than a bowl of soup sometimes.

These strategies are meant to add calories and prevent weight loss, and to provide pleasure. My husband is a "foodie" and it is sad for him not to have an appetite. Good food experiences help beat the doldrums, too. Bring on the ice cream!

I agree with Kimbee's approach -- find foods she might enjoy in spite of a decreased appetite. And if that is pot pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, so be it. And as Tonio says, lots of snacks might work better than larger meals. (In our case, especially if some of the snacks include ice cream.)

Good luck.
I really agree with the ice cream or sorbet suggestions. I also recommend tiny plates and tiny portions. I had TB when I was in college and would not eat. My mother actually went back to some of the small but attractive china dishes we used in our playhouse. Then she increased the sizes of the plates or bowls bit by bit. I had only a few foods that I could choke down between coughing. You have wonderful suggestions from everyone else so I won't repeat them, but I put the meals I take to my mother in brightly colored plastic dishes that are meant for a young child at school. (I make sure that pictures are not on them. ) Her generation hates waste and she feels like she can eat what I send her. Best wishes!
sonace5, I was thinking about you today and remembered some other things that helped my mom, along with the use of the red plates. She didn't want to eat and attempted to refuse, stating she wasn't hungry. We always countered with, "That's ok, you don't have to eat, come sit at the table with us and visit--we miss you when you're not here." That would usually get her to the table. I'd fix our plates at the stove, and place a red plate with small portions in front of her, and continue with getting the rest of the platesand drinks on the table. Usually she forgot that she wasn't hungry and wasn't going to eat, and just got started like everyone else. We decided to not give any reinforcing attention to unwillingness to eat. If she didn't begin to eat, we'd comment about how good this or that was-to each other-(she didn't want to miss anything)-so she'd pick up her fork. My husband was worried she would get upset if we were using large white plates, and hers was small/red, like we were making her "different." (The red plates are way too small for my husband) One day she did question that and I told her I gave her a special red plate because she's special. She grinned and started eating. I've also used appetizer foods like cheese and crackers/hummus/veggie sticks/ etc. on a platter in the living room, along with something to drink (water). She immediately says "oh, we're having a party" and is willing to eat. I also offer organic trail mix with some dried blueberries in it in small dishes when she has not eaten enough. She is willing to eat these small amounts--I guess it doesn't register as a meal, so maybe isn't so overwhelming. Grilled cheese has been well received too. Also, breakfast foods for dinner. Blueberry pancakes or oatmeal with dried fruit added at the end, have been hits in the morning. I often serve breakfast on the deck. We have lots of privacy, so I get her outside in the fresh air and daylight in her housecoat. We have birdfeeders near the deck, in view from the kitchen and deck tables. She enjoys watching the birds while we eat breakfast.

Also helpful, getting her to participate in meal planning and food preparation. I find something for her to slice or chop or any other way to help get dinner ready that is simple and can be done sitting at the table. I ask her if she'd mind "helping" me. I do something else in the kitchen and stay very busy and out of the way of her task. She feels important and more interested in eating.

Hope your mom is eating better. Let us know how it's going.


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