How can I get my father to eat more?

6 answers | Last updated: Nov 19, 2016
A fellow caregiver asked...

My Father is in assisted living. They provide his meals, but lately he is not eating at all. I have been taking him to my house on Sunday for dinner but he eats very little. I am afraid to bring him again as he fell last week (we caught him but he sat down hard). I don't want to nag, but what can I do?


Expert Answers

The first thing you need to do is take your dad to his doctor for an evaluation. There could be medical reasons for why he isn't eating. Lack of appetite is a symptom of some conditions. He might also have swallowing or chewing problems, which make eating painful or difficult. He may be too embarrassed to mention this. It also sounds like he could be depressed. Losing interest in food is a common sign of depression. Does he seem down or depressed in other ways?  Be sure to ask his doctor about depression (which can often be treated effectively with medication), and whether he should be seen by a psychiatrist.

Good for you for taking the initiative with this! Too often, not eating is seen as a normal part of aging, when it's not. It's often a sign or symptom of an underlying condition or illness. It's important to get your dad evaluated, so you'll know the best next steps to take.

By the way, does your dad enjoy the Sunday dinners at your house? If so, maybe you should keep with this wonderful  tradition, using a walker or cane as needed? When you talk to his doctor, be sure to mention the fall, and ask about a fall-risk evaluation from a physical therapist. Physical therapists can suggest all kinds of helpful ways to minimize the risk of falling, from exercises to build muscle to mobility equipment.  Best of luck to you.


Community Answers

A fellow caregiver answered...

How about sneaking in more calories per bite, such as adding butter or oil, carnation instant breakfast, protein powder, heavy creams into sauces, etc. Of course have him checking medically, but calorie booster ideas can come from a good nutritionist as well.


Themilton answered...

I feel that how we feel about food is very American from fast food on the room between places been to and need to be to overating or undereating at home alone quietly desperate about how we feel. When an eating pattern has changed and weight will quickly reflect that, it's a good response to want to know why and what cause of action is best to pursue while seeking an understandingof the why(the root of the change)


Lcsw answered...

try a drug called Megace, it increases appetite for cancer patients


Sheeba answered...

You should also check him for Parkinson's.My father had it for 8yrs but it showed no signs up until 6 months ago.That cause mood swings,loss of expressionsometimes and appetite too.Best is to get his evaluation by a doc.Also try meal supplement drinks like FORTISIP450 k/cal/bottle 250mg or even 125ml450 k/cals.The good news with these drinks are that they come in different flavours and textures.,like shakes,juices and soups. Theres nothing better in life than to look after our parents.They gave us all when we were young,now is our time to help them in old age. Loneliness is another thing that sinks in and makes one depressed.keep him entertained.Good luck!!! beneprotein can b added to drinks and yogurts etc too


Kevin45 answered...

My father was eating less and less until I started making making eating effortless. I cut everything into 1/4" cubes but try to leave it in its original shape. I put his food on a cutting board and use a large very sharp knife to make lots of cut and then scoop up an entire chicken breast with a spatula and slide it onto his plate. He now eats like he used to. I make sure he has no need for a knife.