ARTICLES / General / Nine
Ways to Get Someone to Eat /
by Jennifer B. Buckley
A common nutritional problem that
can affect care recipients in poor health is cachexia-anorexia
and it especially involves those in advanced stages of
Alzheimer’s, Cancer and AIDS. Cachexia-anorexia is a
syndrome in which progressive and involuntary weight
loss occurs. The people with this disorder are
“wasting-away” from the lack of vitamins and nutrients
and as a caregiver; this can be a difficult and
frustrating event to witness.
The syndrome can be attributed to cancer treatments,
medications, physiological problems like an obstructing
tumor in the gastrointestinal track or psychological
problems like depression. It is also possible the person
you are caring for has a loss of appetite simply from
not feeling well. Caregiver.com has come up with a list
of ways to help your care recipient eat. This list
doesn’t necessarily reflect the needs of care recipients
on special needs diets such as diabetes or restricted
salt intake diets. Remember to consult your physician
about the specific dietary needs of your loved one.
Water, Water, Water. Make sure the person you are caring
for has plenty of water to avoid dehydration, which can
lead to appetite suppression.
Keep it small. Instead of three large meals a day, which
can look overwhelming to someone in poor health, serve
six small meals a day.
Bulk up on the amount of calories per meal. For
instance, you can add protein powder mix to shakes or
drinks to increase calories.
Soft is better. Serve soft foods such as pudding, ice
cream or fruit smoothies because they can be tasty and
easy to digest.
Make it tasty. Don’t serve bland or sour tasting foods.
Put the power in their hands. When possible, give the
person you are caring for the decision-making power to
decide what they would like to eat; it helps them to
feel in control.
Make it pretty. Present appetizing looking meals by
accenting the plate with a garnish (i.e. strawberry or
melon). Also, make the dining experience pleasant for
the person you are caring for by playing soft music or
talking to them about the day’s events while they are
eating to take their minds off not feeling well.
Write it down. Keep a food diary about the person you
are caring for and include: what food they have problems
or complications digesting and their daily food menus,
and review it with their doctor or dietician for
feedback. They may be experiencing digestive problems or
irritable bowl syndrome due to their menu.
Work it out. Try and get them moving to work up an
appetite. If overall exercise such as walking isn’t
possible, have them fold the laundry or peel vegetables.