Q: How do we get loved ones to eat when they live in a nursing home?

Last month, we addressed how to encourage your loved one who lives at home one to eat more food. This month, we will address how to encourage your loved one, who lives in a nursing home, to take in more nutrition. 

  1. One idea is to visit during mealtimes and actually eat with your loved one. Many residents in nursing homes eat in congregate dining halls, and you can join them. The socialization piece of this is very important and will hopefully persuade him or her to eat more of what is offered. You can eat the same food, comment about it, and encourage them to try certain things they might not normally try. If they eat alone in their room, particularly joining them during mealtime gives them some company.
  2. Another way to tempt the taste buds is that you can always bring in foods from the outside. These could be prepared foods from restaurants or they could be some of their favorite snack foods or drinks. (Be sure to not start a tradition that you cannot uphold. They very well might get used to expecting this extra food, and you may not be able to always show up at the same time or with the same items.) It’s always nice to get a treat, and bringing treats periodically can encourage them to eat more, and in turn, increase their metabolism so they eat better at regular meals as well.
  3. Lastly, if someone is drinking a Boost or Ensure as a meal supplement or replacement, ice cream and/or peanut butter can often be mixed with the drink. The ice cream provides extra calories and often a better taste, while the peanut butter provides calories, protein, and some extra fat. This can be helpful, in particular, if someone wants something that tastes more like a treat or if you’re working hard to keep weight on your loved one if they have a tendency to lose weight.

For the last decade, Amy Hane has been committed to serving the CSRA community by guiding those going through mental, physical and social issues related to caring for an aging or disabled loved one. She assists families with transitions to higher quality care for the safety and wellbeing of all involved.

Amy holds both Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of South Carolina, is a licensed Master Social Worker in South Carolina and Georgia, an Advanced Professional Aging Life Care Manager and also a Certified Advanced Social Work Case Manager.