How to get Dad to Eat More?

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... let me preface this by saying it is probably easier to get a toddler to eat than my Dad. To say that his palate has become pickier with age is an understatement. Dad has lost about 6 pounds in the past two months (I WISH I COULD DO THAT!), and despite the efforts of his hospice nurse, we're not getting too far. Dad was drinking chocolate ensures for a while and gained about 10 pounds on them, but he soon grew tired of them and said they upset his stomach, so that stopped. He only eats a few "real food" items ... bacon and egg sandwiches on white, thin sliced bread (seriously, he won't eat any other type of bread), hamburgers, hot dogs, vegetable soup and some "soul food" (baked ham, bbq ribs, collards, yams, potato salad, baked beans). That's IT! I'm not exaggerating. I can only bring the soul food and hot dogs when I visit (usually three times a week), and that in itself is cumbersome, but if the dining room doesn't have what he likes, he won't eat. They have tried to give Dad milkshakes, weight gainer ice cream, weight gainer pudding, etc, but he doesn't like them. I try to keep him supplied with calorically dense snacks (Little Debbie snack cakes, Lay's potato chips, ice cream sandwiches, Cokes), but he eats those sporadically. He's communicated that he will order vegetable soup to be brought to his room, but they either bring it to him late or not at all. Furthermore, if they don't have vegetable soup, he won't eat it. I've tried to buy larger portions of the foods he likes, split them into smaller servings and put them in his small fridge, but he says he doesn't like to eat the leftovers cold. He refuses to ask the AL staff to heat up his leftovers for him. I need some suggestions on how to get AL staff more involved to make sure they're providing support in this area. I've asked, but have no real way to verify that my wishes are being carried out. I really don't want to be the helicopter daughter here, but this is important. 6 foot 1 and 121 pounds is NOT a healthy weight. HELP!

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I'd be careful about believing all stories that a person with advanced dementia says, without independent verification. My LO has told me that she leaves the facility for dinner with her date on a black horse, goes dancing and then returns to find her doctor sleeping on the couch in the AL lobby. She truly believed it though. lol
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97yroldmom, that's helpful. He takes the pain meds PRN but I'm hoping the AL staff can continue to encourage him to eat before taking the meds.

He asked for pizza yesterday. I brought him a NY slice and he devoured it! I was so happy to see him eating.

As for the AL staff, the PM folks leave a lot to be desired. There are a couple CNA's / Med Techs that are down right mean. I'm trying to stay out of it, but I get concerned.

I so want to be codependent and monitor whether what Dad says is true about him ordering a bowl of soup and it never making it to his room. They don't allow texting / emailing. They JUST got onto an electronic charting system.

I wish I didn't have to worry about this. I pay money to try to alleviate some of the anxiety of "caregiving", but often wonder WTH I'm paying for. If Dad is gonna get yelled at or deal with impatience, I might as well move him in with me. I thought that people that worked in the AL would be more patient than I am. Guess not.
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Well he is underweight, no doubt. While the pain meds make him more comfortable, they probably also take his appetite. Does he get this med whenever he needs it or on a regular basis? I ask because he might be able to eat more before he has the meds? Just guessing here. Some people are on hospice for years. Hopefully he won't have a problem staying on it.
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Thanks everyone. Yes, Dad is on hospice, but he's nowhere near "the end" from what I can tell. The only reason why I got hospice involved is because his doctor at the VA would not add Ativan to his regimen. Since hospice has stepped in, he hasn't had ONE panic attack. They also give Dad morphine as needed for shortness of breath. However, that could be ending soon because Dad will reach his 6 month mark (free) next month. I have no idea what happens after that. I can't afford to pay for anything out of pocket, so it is my hope that Dad's weight loss will qualify him for another 6 months.

And yes, Dad is 6 foot 1. He was 6 foot 4 when I was growing up. I still worry that 120 is way too thin for him at this height. He's literally skin and bones.

I wish I could stop worrying so much. The underlying issue is not the junk food. In fact the doctor says let him eat what he wants. It's more of he only eats what I bring him, and lately even that's gone down.

My "family" (notice the quotes) are saying I threw Dad away and he's not being taken care of at the AL... that his weight loss is due to me not doing my part... and he is really thin... I can't help but worry.

So part of it is stubborness. He refuses to eat what's put before him because he will at least try to eat the "soul" food and junk stating that the food at the AL "doesn't taste right".

I guess this would be easier to let go if I didn't feel like him digging in his heels was negatively affecting his health. It's so hard to de-program myself. I can't "make" him eat, but feel like I need to do something -- at the expense of my sanity because I resent having to jump through hoops... UGH....
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Barb
I missed the hospice also and do not want Tiny to stress herself or her dad but I still do try to answer the question asked if I have experience with it.
I understood it to be how to get her dad to eat. Which I do have experience with.
Having said that, after reading the question again I see that she was asking how to get the AL staff to help. That I don't have experience with.

Sorry Tiny that your dad is now on hospice. My father lived five (good) years after we got him eating again but he did not have lung issues. Perhaps a talk with his doctor could help you to set your expectations for him realistically.
Sometimes we can save our loved one from one problem to have them live on and suffer more from a worse problem. I remember your posting before about him wanting to go out more often than you could take him. I know you have really tried to make him happy. Hugs to you both.
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Oh, he's on Hospice....I didn't see that. I'd just let him enjoy what he wants. I'm not sure how gaining weight would help. Pus, it might not be possible, regardless of the calories.
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Tiny, stop.

Your dad is on Hospice. Stop trying to fix what can't be fixed. (I know. I. did it too).

Focus on enjoying what you can about him and let the other stuff go. Don't fuss at him. Smell the flowers and enjoy the nice weather with him when you visit. Bring treats, but please don't stress if he's not eating.
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Are you sure he is still 6'1"? My mom was 5'9" when young. 5'1" when she died. If 6'1" he would have a healthy BMI at around 150.
Having said that, there are blood tests that would show if he is not thriving. Are his teeth in good shape?
All of the foods you mention are fattening enough. If you can encourage him to eat an egg a day it can help keep him from being frail. Will he eat boiled eggs? Those are easy to refrigerate and often eaten cold. You could put those bacon and egg sandwiches in his frig easy enough. Also the hotdogs could be on hand. Get the plastic dishes with partitions. Put a hot dog on one side and potato salad on the other. Add a few cookies.
Switch it up each week. See if he even takes them out of the box. He may just be forgetting to eat.
Does he eat with a good appetite when you bring in the outside food? If so, I agree with FF. He's probably just spoiled. No problem with that if that is what you want to do. But you need to set up some guidelines ( like his bloodwork) for yourself so you don't worry so much. Thin people are usually a lot healthier.
There are medications to increase the appetite if his doctor feels he is too thin. My dad had to take that at one time because his bloodwork showed he wasn't thriving. It worked for him.
You could also ask his dr to order some pt or ot to get him moving and see if that would help the appetite.
He might also be depressed.
An aid to go in at meal time and take him to the dining room might help him get started. The aid might cost about the same as what you are spending on the outside food. Maybe he's lonely at meal time in the dining room? Let us know what works.
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I think it's common for seniors to like what they like. My dad, who doesn't have dementia, doesn't eat healthy food the way he used to. He waves away the veggies and opts for ice cream, cookies and chips. But, he's 80 years old. To me, it's his choice as to what he eats. He should enjoy what he wants. That's my take on it. I don't comment on his choices. Better, he enjoy the meals in this stage of his life in peace.

Now, if the doctor was telling me that he was malnourished or suffering from too few calories, I'd likely react differently. Has the doctor stressed concern? How do you know what he eats and doesn't eat at the AL? MY LO (cousin, who's in MC) claims that she never eats anything, but, that's not true. She eats quite well. She just forgets that she ate due to her dementia.

Also, I suspect that at the AL level, they may not be equipped to manage serious food refusal or disorders. When my LO was in a regular AL, they required each resident to dine in the dining room for at least 2 meals per day. In Memory Care, they actually escort the resident into the dining room and log the food not eaten, if there is a problem.  Most eat well from what I have observed. They hand feed those that need assistance. Maybe, more hands on care would help with your dad's meals. 
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Tinyblu, time for Dad to start eating meals made by the facility. You need to stop enabling him by being his very own private meal on wheels. Dad won't go hungry, eventually he will eat what is served by the facility.   No different then a very fussy child.

Dad could be doing this to make you feel sorry for him... thus hoping you will bring him back to your home to live. Elders can be very clever.

Also, it is not unusual for an elder to lose their sense of taste either from just aging, or a side effect of medication... or using a whitening toothpaste [I kid you not on the last one, it happened to me].

The Staff has a lot on their own plates [no pun intended]. The facility probably feels they are providing a quality meals 3 times a day for your Dad.

Another thing, if Dad isn't getting much exercise, he won't be very hungry.
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