How to Handle Difficult Behaviors
Loss of appetite due to underlying illness, boredom, loss of taste, dementia
What to do:
Focus on what your loved one likes to eat rather than your idea of perfect nutrition. Changing taste buds may make foods seem particularly bland. Unless there are strong medical reasons for a specific diet, once someone reaches a certain age and is losing weight, it's usually more important that he or she eats for pleasure and gets enough calories.
Make available a variety of reasonably healthful high-calorie choices, such as puddings, shakes, smoothies, and cereal.
Season liberally with herbs and other flavorings to make foods more enticing.
Avoid nagging. Making a big deal about eating only sets up a battle of wills.
Serve micro-meals throughout the day rather than the "big three." Your loved one may not feel like eating much at a single meal.
Mention the behavior to the doctor, especially if new, to rule out a medical cause. Ask whether nutritional supplement drinks are appropriate.
Realize that some older adults forget to eat because of memory problems. Find out how to solve eating problems common to people with Alzheimer's and other dementias.