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How can I get my Mom to eat?

Answered by Karen Garner

November 21, 2016

Mom has developed a poor perception of thinking she has eaten and is full. It is now increasingly difficult to get her to even drink ensure. She will take a few small sips and then say,"I just ate a big lunch I'm full." She is losing weight rapidly and I think I have tried everything. She is taking Rx Magace for appetite but it’s not working. Any suggestions?

This is a most difficult question to answer because I am afraid the answer can be quite painful. Without having much information to go on, it seems your Mom is at a place that is quite common for elderly people and those with dementia. Sometimes their body understands what is happening and recognizes they don’t need as much intake as they once did.

There are some medications that can cause a loss of appetite. Please ask her physician if this may be the case. Also, as people age, their sense of smell and taste changes. You may try different foods, possibly things your Mom would never have eaten in the past. Try to make them visually interesting as well.

Is your Mom still drinking plenty of water and liquids? Is she constipated? Does she have any issues with her teeth or mouth? All of these can cause a lack of desire to eat. Please be sure to talk to her physician as there could be several causes for her lack of appetite.

In the end, you may be asked to decide if you would like to force feed her. This is something that is very personal and you hopefully have had a discussion with your Mom that will help you determine if you want to go down that road.

This is not an easy time and I am sorry your Mom is losing so much weight and not eating. It is frustrating to watch when you just want to make them eat, as she probably did you many years ago. You can try making sure she has lots of people around at meal time, that you change up the routine a little to make it more interesting and also remind her how important her taking in food is for her health. Most of all, just give her a hug and remind her how much you love her.

Thoughts and stories from others

  1. November 24, 2016 at 09:47 pm
    Posted by Sheila

    I lost my mother some time ago to alzheimers - dinner at our house we all sit at the table and I had Mom's food cut in bite size pieces . I would almost cry when she repeatedly would refuse to eat - then the hubby started slowly sneaking his fork over pretending to sneak something off her plate Mom would get very annoyed grab her plate and eat up glaring at him
  2. November 24, 2016 at 06:13 am
    Posted by Alison Flowers

    I just lost my mother, a little over 3 months ago, to Alzheimer's. She weighed 84 pounds when she died. When she was diagnosed, she weighed at least 170 lbs. It is a difficult situation, and all you can do is offer her food and try to get her eat. It took me a long time to learn and accept that a patient with Alzheimer's is unreasonable and irrational. All that you can do is try and know that you did your best. Hoping for the best for you!

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