Getting Your Loved One to Eat

We all know the importance of diet and nutrition. It is even more important that your loved one eats the right foods. Many dementia patients have other illnesses also known as co-morbidities. High blood pressure, diabetes, poor kidney function and bladder and bowel problems.

Once again, as caregivers we find ourselves trying to figure out why?  We ask why isn’t our loved one eating? We make favorite foods, and still nothing? Why did our loved one go from having a healthy appetite to a sudden loss of appetite?

In the medical world we continue to reinforce that there is usually a reason behind their loss interest. This can be frustrating for you to hear. The response is usually; “I am making all favorite meals and still nothing!” Of course, it is important to ask the why to your loved one.

Here are some possibilities:

  1. Taste buds may have changed. Therefore, foods might not have the same flavor and taste appetizing.

  2. The portions being offered may be too big and overwhelming. Think about offering finger foods. For example, cut up apples, peanut butter and crackers, cheese cubes, and chicken fingers. Always make certain whatever you choose is allowed. If they have kidney problems too much salt can be an issue. So, offering crackers might not be a good choice.

  3. They might not be hungry. If they are not moving as much as they use to their appetite might have decreased.

  4. Are they not feeling well? Do they have a fever? Cough? Ask yourself “What other behavior are they displaying that might help get the answer?”

  5. Are they having pain?

  6. Do they remember how to eat? Use of utensils can be frustrating. Once again finger foods are helpful.

  7. Do they remember what food is? I have personally observed my Alzheimer’s dementia patients staring at their foods with a very confused look.