How can I get my aging father to stop eating like a picky child?
March 8, 2013 7:11 AM Subscribe
My dad is around 70 years old and has subsisted on a steady diet of shortbread cookies (those ones in the yellow box from the convenience store) and vanilla Ensure drinks for the past 2-3 years. How can we help him to help himself and eat real, nourishing food?
posted by anonymous to health & fitness (33 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
My dad is a war vet, recently retired after 30 years of steady employment. He suffers from PTSD episodes (nightmares) occasionally, so his sleep is irregular, and he's quite irritable sometimes. He throws tantrums like a small child whenever myself or my mother try to talk to him about his poor diet, or get him to do something he doesn't want to do (e.g. plan something or make a phone call). His mood is slightly more stable now that he's quit alcohol. He's struggled for years with trying to quit smoking, to no avail.
My father started drinking Ensure during his recovery from oral surgery. He got part of his tongue removed to treat oral cancer, and had to get dentures after his teeth rotted out from the radiation. He doesn't like to wear his dentures due to the discomfort, so I'm not sure how possible it would be for him to eat real food. There has to be some alternative to sugar cookies and sugary milk (=Ensure!) 3x daily. He constantly clears his throat of phlegm. It is disturbing and saddening.
My dad refuses to start eating real food again, minus some soup at restaurants. He's a brilliant man, but was so emotionally unfulfilled as a child and damaged by war that he apparently feels no drive to take care of himself, despite his loving family. I'm sure it will be difficult for my mother--a wonderfully fun-loving, compassionate person and devoted wife--to care for him during his inevitable decline.
What can you do if your loved one refuses to help himself? How do you worry less about it? Looking for advice from anyone who has been in a similar position with a family member.