Dear Barbara, My father fell, was hospitalized and is now home. He just isn’t eating—popsicles but nothing else. The doctors have not offered any suggestions. What should I do?
The elderly, after a fall or illness, often are not much interested in eating. If there are no other health issues, they gradually return to normal eating. In the meantime here are some ideas:
* 3 meals a day are too many and too much.
* Offer small, high protein snacks (custards, cheese and crackers, egg bites, ice cream, smoothies with protein and calories) four times a day. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, and bedtime.
* In between the protein snacks offer a protein drink.
Ensure Complete or Boost are easy and you can get them almost anywhere (Kroger, Walgreens, Walmart…). Get the ones with 360 calories per container. Offer him one 3 or 4 times a day. Again, he may not drink it but a little is better than nothing.
* A meat and potatoes meal is just too much.
* Ask him what sounds good. What would he like to eat? He may just take a few bits. That's okay. You've tried.
* Because he likes popsicles, try fudge bars, or ice cream bars since they have more calories and protein. Maybe the cold feels good in his mouth.
* You are trying for as much nutrition, calories and protein in as little quantity as possible.
I don't know your living situation but you might find my guidebook, By Your Side, A Guide for Caring for the Dying at Home, helpful with guidance in caring for him.