When Your Loved One Has No Appetite: Tips for Caregivers

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As a caregiver, it can be disheartening when your loved one refuses to eat or simply has no appetite. While it’s natural for appetite to diminish as end-of-life nears, it still doesn’t make it any less stressful or worrisome when our loved one doesn’t eat. While forcing food on your loved one is never advised, here are some tips that may help spark his appetite. 

  1. Maintain a regular feeding schedule. As we age, our ability to feel hunger declines, but sticking to a plan helps our body prepare to eat when it’s time.
  2. Large plates may feel overwhelming to a person with little appetite, so try smaller servings of nutrient-rich, high-density foods such as avocado, finely chopped eggs or meat, nut butter, and soft cheeses.
  3. If your loved one is shaky, utensils may be challenging to use. Try serving foods that don’t require utensils, such as lunch meats and cheeses and raw or steamed vegetables. 
  4. Try snacks instead. A meal may not sound appealing, but grazing might. Keep snacks such as yogurt, fruits, and string cheese on hand for the moments when your loved one just wants a little something. 
  5. If chewing is an issue, try milkshakes or smoothies. Pureed soup is a nutritious option, as well as fruit and vegetable smoothies. Ice cream milkshakes make for great treats! 

Finally, if you’re concerned about your loved one, be sure to ask his doctor or medical team for additional help and advice. 

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