Anonymous asked in Society & CultureCultures & GroupsSenior Citizens · 1 decade ago

Appetite help with elderly person?

I am a caregiver for my grandmother. She is 87, and very underweight, 5'7", 118 lbs. i cook daily, chicken, beef something along those lines, along with veggies and some sort of bread, as well as some dessert. I have her drink a Boost Plus at night, but she only drinks half of it, with her evening meds. She says she is just not hungry anymore. They have her on depression medication, which should help her eat more, and outside of trying to get her to eat snacks and things with me, i am at a loss. The dr said she needs another 20lbs. And suggested she eat more frequently, but when she says she is not hungry what do you do? I take a multivitamin daily, and it has helped me eat more, i am also 10lb under for my weight, she takes them as well, but i am lost as to what i can do. Is there anything i can put into meals that is tasteless to help weight gain? I see everything for weight loss, but gain is hard to find. Vit B says it helps metabolism, if it burns calories faster would that make you eat more? I am truly concerned for her health. She is withering away to nothing, and just refuses to eat more than once a day.


Thank you to all the answers. She used to love shakes so i will definatly try that. Also her dr once had her on an appetite stimulant, and i monitor her medication, she forgets to take it otherwise, so i will be sure to call and ask him for those again. Again thank you for all the help, i have been very concerned about this.

22 Answers

  • judy b
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The only thing you can do is try to give her different things she likes to eat that are perhaps a little on the high calorie side. At her age I see nothing wrong with trying to push the desserts. You also might want to check out this website and do a search for high calorie shakes. These are shakes that body builders use to put on some extra weight mass. These shakes don't take the place of a meal but are used as a supplement to be taken in between meals. They are usually in powder form and can be mixed with water or milk. If you have a vitamin store near by they may also carry these, some drug stores (like rite aid) also carry them. My best to you and Grandma. Good luck.


  • keneth
    Lv 4
    3 years ago

    Loss Of Appetite In Elderly

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You don't mention any other details such as health or what happened to your grandfather, etc. But I agree with one of the posts and I'll tell you why.

    Once people get to the point that they are not hungry, it is code speak and they're actually saying that they are tired and they've had enough of this lifetime. I know this is very hard to hear and understand, as you are caring and loving toward your grandmother. But the same rules that effect us do not pertain to her.

    She's very tired, and has gotten to the point that she has nothing left to look forward to. You can either stimulate her in some way, but I doubt it will do any good. People just know when they're ready to go. I've seen it before, and it is difficult to watch.

    I would feed her anything she wants. Give her cookies, brownies, ice cream, whatever she desires. Let her enjoy the life she has left right now. Let her do it on her terms.

    It will be the most kindess and supportive thing you can do for her. It will also give you the time left to share with her not worrying but accepting it. It will give you time to know her well and she'll always live in your heart.

    I am a medium as well, I should say. Call it a free consultation.

    Good luck and be happy with her. And kudos for taking care of her so well.

  • 1 decade ago

    The other answers are very good. I would add that my daughter who is not elderly but handicapped has similar problems with eating. She was down thirty pounds and they put her on a medication called cyproheptadine. It helped a lot to boost her appetite. I don't know if B6 would work to help with that or not. The doctor does have my daughter take that but I thought it was for neuro issues and not appetite. Anyway other than that I make sure and have food prepared at the ready when ever she does get hungry so she can eat immediately. Stuff that is kind of high calorie for her. Like Mac and cheese and stuff that she won't have too much problem digesting. You could make special treats that she is especially fond off. Others in the household may have to resist the temptation to eat it though. Anyway if you have it ready at a moments notice then it only has to be popped in the microwave. My daughter seems to have the problem of being hungry one minute and the next she isn't. By the time I get the food prepared she is over her hunger and I have to put it away. So have something ready that she likes. The doctor also has told me that I could boost appetite by giving soda or drinks with aspartame in them. Don't know why this is but it does seem to make her hungrier. I hate her eating that because it is empty calories and everyone says it causes head aches and such but if your grandmother doesn't have a problem with it it may be some help. Oh and you might ask the doctor if the antidepressant or other meds that she is on is causing any appetite problems. Some of them really cause a lot of problems along that line. Hope this helps a little.

    Edit: One other thing I thought of. With my daughter it helps to get her eating at dinner time by just giving her some little tiny treat that is so small it isn't a problem with her eating it. I tell her just eat that one thing. Something high in calories but very small. My daughter loves cashews but it could be anything that gets her juices going in her stomach and makes her want to eat. Like a bit of or favorite fruit like grapes or a tiny bit of avacado or something like that. Well something like that.

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  • 1 decade ago

    It's likely that there are several reasons why your grandmother doesn't have much appetite. Medications, lack of activity, being frail, feeling sad, changing taste buds, stomach upset, can all compound each other. Being poorly nourished can cause lack of appetite too, so not eating well becomes a vicious cycle. Trying to coax her to eat will take some experimenting and patience.

    You could try to make sure that she gets outside for a short walk each day. Start slowly; maybe 5 or 10 minutes each day if she hasn't been walking lately.

    Try to get her to help you cook. Plan meals, shop with you if she is able, do the prep work and clean up. Chat with her as you two prepare meals together.

    Here are some foods that can help add weight and are also very nutritious, and I'm assuming that your grandmother has no food allergies:

    Peanut butter; on bread, toast, crackers (pb and graham crackers, my favorite), and on fruit-like bananas, apples, or pears. You can add peanut butter to milkshakes too; one or two tablespoons of peanut butter per milkshake.

    Eggs: scrambled, omelettes, hard boiled, you can add extra egg whites to a regular omellete or scrambled eggs; add a whipped egg to chicken egg drop soup. Make an egg salad that can be spread on a sandwich, on a cracker, or served with tomatoes.

    Small servings of oatmeal; a bit of milk, a bit of brown sugar and a few blueberries or chopped apples or pears. Oatmeal and apple sauce works well too.

    Sweet potaoes: bake a sweet potato; serve about 1/4 at a time. You can mash baked sweet potatoes; use milk or a tiny bit of orange juice and a bit of butter.

    Try to use whole grain foods whenever possible; whole grain breads, pastas, crackers etc have more nutrients and so your grandma will get more nutrition from eating small amounts.

    Try baking together: zucchini bread, carrot cake, mini blueberry muffins, gingerbread, etc.

    Source(s): Eating Well as we Age (FDA) Lifestages, Seniors USDA
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Same as my grandma used to do. So I just made it a point to make things that i knew she liked from before -- some weird stuff, like smelts from Nova Scotia where she grew up. She would eat 5 pounds of those things if she could. And sweets -- she really had a sweet tooth, but I figured at her age, what harm could it do.

    But hon, eventually, their little bodies do start to shut down. They are not expending any calories and they don't feel hungry. It's just part of their aging process and the process of letting go of this life -- I'm so sorry to tell you that, but that is just the truth. I know she's being treated for depression -- at their age they have said so many good byes and have had so many losses, it's just hard for them to deal with the grief.

    So bring her some food when you visit her, and get her talking about her life. The memories may evoke something in her and help her eat something.

    ((HUG)) you are a wonderful person to be caring for your grandmother.

  • 5 years ago

    I read about people caring for their 75 year old mothers and think I must be a very lucky person. I am 76, live in my family home with two dogs and two cats, take care of the house, shopping, bill paying, taking pets to vets and doling out medicine for them and for me. I prepare my own food and really do things like I used to do my whole life long. Walk the dogs, drive anywhere I need to go, visit doctors and dentist alone. I also have a very healthy appetite even though things don't all taste as good as they used to. I wonder if people do better if they have to care for themselves and don't have so many back ups. I have daughters who will help anytime I ask but I don't need to ask yet. I am sure the time will come though.

  • Cranky
    Lv 5
    1 decade ago

    I know that this is tremendously difficult. I have been through it three times with elderly family. Here's what I did and it worked.

    Don't spend so much time balancing a meal. We know for a fact that balanced meals are usually calorie shy, especially if she's only eating once a day. The best, all-time advice that their physicians gave, was this-let them eat what they want, but make sure it's loaded with calories. And remember, the human body does not have a clock, so it doesn't know what time of the day or night it is, so it's a wide open berth for food. And yes, Vitamin B12, for most people does enhance the diet, but not for everyone. But then again, so does pot and that's why many ill people smoke it.

    I'm in full agreement with milkshakes, they pack a wallop of calories, and sundaes. At her age and weight, fat shouldn't be too much of a problem. Bake some cookies and put some wheatgerm in them for extra nutrition, chocolate chip or her favorite. How about some homemade fudge, this was a favorite in her day.

    Be sure to ask, if you don't already know, what her all-time favorite food is and make sure that she gets plenty of it.

    I don't envy your position and you have my full appreciation for what you're doing.

    Thank you for your loving care and thought for your Grandmother. And while you're at it, take care of yourself, too. God bless you.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    After my dad died, my 76-year-old mom went through a non-eating, depressed period (she dropped 10 lbs, and she only weighs 105 lbs normally!) One calorie booster that she liked was a Boost shake. Try blending it up with ice cream.

    We got my mom eating again by doing a couple of things. First, she got on an antidepressant, which has worked REALLY well. Second, we started taking her out to eat a couple of times a week. We found that she tended to finish her food when she ate with others, and even more so if it was restaurant food (which she hated to waste). Third, we loaded her cupboards up with junk food (her doctor approved her to eat pretty much anything, as long as it put weight on her) My mom grew up in poverty, so most of her life she indulged rarely in frivolous purchases like cookies, ice cream, chips, etc. -- even less so since we "kids" were gone. We found that just putting a variety of stuff in her house encouraged her to eat (again, she hated "wasting" food, so she would eat it).

    Hopefully there are some tidbits here that can help you. Good luck, and best to you and your grandmother.

  • 1 decade ago

    I was the caregiver for my mom, who was in her 90's, and her answers were the same as your grandmother's. I tried to make everything as fattening as I could, even if it just meant adding some butter. Each night I made her a soda from ice cream and Coke. She loved that more than anything. At your grandmom's age, you are probably not going to get her to eat more. If they don't want it you can't force it, can you? Try to balance her meals the best you can, and leave a little dish of her favorite candy near by. Sometimes they eat more if you sit and eat with them, but my mom would get to talking and forget to eat, so I won't offer that idea up to you.

    Just do the best you can. She cares that you are near her more than she cares about food. You are her angel, you know?

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