What To Do When An Elderly Person Stops Eating? – Guide 101

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One of the biggest troubles faced by a human being when they reach their old age is the inability to eat and drink. This can raise quite some concerns in people who look after them. Gradually, the person might even give up the idea of eating and drinking.

If you can relate to this situation, and have an elderly who is refusing to eat or drink, then this is a guide specially curated for you.

The Reason Why An Elderly Person Stops Eating

When an elderly person stops eating or refuses to drink water, it raises many questions and concerns. The first thing you must do is to consult a doctor and find out the underlying cause. It might be due to some diseases or medical conditions, or it might also be purely psychological.

One of the most common reasons why an elderly stops eating is due to dementia or Alzheimer’s. A person suffering from this medical condition tends to shed a lot of weight and eventually gives up eating and drinking. This can worsen their health condition even further.

So here are 5 effective tips that will help you persuade your parents or grandparents to eat what their body requires and keep them healthy.

5 Tips To Bring Back The Appetite Of The Elderly

1. Follow A Diet Routine/Schedule

Usually, we humans consume food whenever we want to, without a set routine. Never follow this in the case of the elderly. They might not come up to you and ask you for food. So, it’s better to develop a schedule to feed them on time.

While making the schedule it is extremely important to consult with their doctor as well as a dietician. Give them the food their body wants and not the food their mind craves.

If the person is reluctant and refuses to eat altogether, it is best to assign the duty to either a home nurse or a caregiver.

 If you are to feed him/her, you must be very patient and feed them in very small amounts. This can help them digest the food easily.

2. Addressing The Discomfort And Side Effects Due To Medication

Most elderly people take in a lot of medications which either cause discomfort or several side effects. The most common discomfort due to medications occurs in the mouth and this can even lead to loss of taste.

This can be an underlying cause of why old people shun away from eating and drinking. Thus, before persuading them to eat food, treat or address the discomfort and then offer them food.

If the taste buds are back to work, they would automatically be able to enjoy their food and take in the required amounts without much pressure/effort from your side.

3. Go For Smaller Quantities Of Food

The only way to easily accomplish this tip is to leave the task to a dietician. They might need only a selected amount of nutrients. Thus, instead of you deciding what to feed them, let the dietician do the job.

Your aim should be to increase the calorie intake by feeding them in small portions. They might not be willing to sit and eat a lavish breakfast or lunch. So, maximize the calorie intake in each bite instead.

In most cases, dieticians prescribe nutritional supplements that are to be administered along with the main diet. You can also try incorporating a good nutrition supplement in their diet to ensure the well-being of your elderly parents. This also helps in giving them the right nutrients without having to take in a lot of food.

4. Go For Liquid Food Items

When an elderly person stops eating, you can’t persuade them to do what you want. They tend to revert to the childish behavior that human beings show during their early stages of life.

Mostly, people feed children with liquid food items. This would fasten up the digestion process and is also easy to swallow. Resort to the same method in the case of elderly people.

Go for nutrient-rich liquid foods. This can be juiced or even purees. You can also make them have nutritious protein drinks which can be a great liquid-alternative for solid food. 

As elderly people do suffer from gum related problems and this might be the main cause of aversion towards food, the problem can be solved by going for liquid food items.

5. Mealtime With Family

Most elderly parents crave the love of family. If you were to hand over the whole responsibility of theirs to some caregivers or home nurses, they would surely feel left out and this could be a reason why they don’t take in the required quantities of food.

This can be solved by making them eat with the family or try to arrange the schedule of the family such that it aligns with the schedule you have set up for them.

 A pleasant setting and appetizing food along with the presence of the loved ones can induce a happy feeling in the elderly and this would be enough to persuade them to eat their meals.

Sit with them and take some time to build a genuine conversation with them. This can not only help them eat but also takes away the isolated feeling or any similar sort of mental health problem.

Winding Up

Many a time, we forget to look past the main problem and end up resorting to temporary solutions. This is true in this case as well. When an elderly person stops eating, we first try to bring a change in the diet. But what we don’t understand is that unless the underlying problem remains unsolved, the problems continue.

So, when an elderly person stops eating or drinking, get to the root cause by consulting with a doctor, and then use our tips. You will surely see the results and you will be able to bring revert the appetite loss in your parents/grandparents.

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