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Enticing Dad to Eat When Alzheimer’s Interferes

Amy Goyer shares the ways she gets her Dad to eat when Alzheimer's interferes & emphasizes healthy foods.

Dad had a better appetite & enjoyed eating out with Mom.

When I was a kid, my sisters and I used to call Dad the “human garbage disposal” because he was happy to finish off anything we had left on our plates.

He’s always had a healthy appetite, but since my mom died seven months ago, Alzheimer’s disease has begun to erode many aspects of Dad’s daily functioning, including his hunger and enjoyment of food.

When Dad refuses ice cream, true panic fills my heart. If he doesn’t want his favorites, how can I entice him to eat healthy foods? We now have to coax him to eat every bite, one of the caregiving tasks that challenges my patience the most.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful for every bit of food or drink Dad has now. But I sometimes find myself daydreaming about those days, just months ago, when he would devour a big salad, soup, large helping of meat and vegetables and still be hungry for a piece of pie and ice cream.

Every now and then, I break down and get him a juicy cheeseburger and fries or a dark chocolate truffle. He sometimes eats that with gusto, which I feel makes it worth the nutritional risk. At the age of 90, Dad deserves to eat what he wants, I figure, and there may come a day when he can’t handle solid foods at all. And besides, they say dark chocolate may have health benefits!

>> Share tips for caregiving with others like you

Here are just a few of the ways I ensure that my dad and I eat as many healthy foods as possible:



How do you deal with eating and nutrition as you care for your loved ones? Let me know in the comments section below and/or share in the AARP Online Community Caregiving group.

Amy Goyer is AARP’s family, caregiving and multigenerational issues expert; she spends most of her time in Phoenix, where she is caring for her dad, who lives with her. She is the author of AARP’s Juggling Work and Caregiving. Follow Amy on Twitter @amygoyer and on Facebook.