Q: How do I get my sick elderly mother to eat when she refuses?

A: I know how hard that is because my normally sweet mother did the same stubborn thing. She had been so sick she'd gotten down to 82 pounds, yet would clinch her teeth when I got half way through feeding her--saying she was going to get fat!

We desperately needed to increase her weight, so I started including a "milkshake" of Ensure Plus with every meal, which added 365 calories each time. I ground up mixed berries in the blender with the vanilla and strawberry flavors to add even more nutrition. With the chocolate I added malt and ground up Almond Rocca candy to add more calories. She loved them.

Since most elders have respect for their doctor and will do what they say, ask her doctor to sternly tell your mother how much she has to eat and get her to promise that she will. Also, get a written "prescription" about it, so you can easily remind her of her promise. I discovered that by telling my mother I had a "prescription" from the doctor saying that I had to report what she'd eaten, and that she was going to get me in big trouble if she didn't finish her meal--she'd finally consent and open her mouth for several more bites.