How to accept an elderly patient's refusal to eat

Written by michael davidson
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How to accept an elderly patient's refusal to eat
Elderly patients often require additional attention to prevent injury. (Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Elderly patient care is a challenging task for both health care professionals and for the patient's families. Some patients require regular medication and it can cause side-effects that limit the patient's desire to eat. Senile patients will also often put up a fight at feeding time, and this can frustrate caretakers who are concerned about proper nourishment. While excessive skipping of meals can lead to malnutrition and weight loss, it is often more beneficial to accept a lack of appetite than to try to force the patient to eat.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy


  1. 1

    Attempt to feed the patient later if the patient refuses to eat during a normal meal time. Trying to feed the patient later takes less effort and less stress than trying to force an unwilling patient to eat on a schedule.

  2. 2

    Examine the patient's skin colour and general condition. If the patient does not appear to be malnourished and food is not required for any medication, let the patient skip a meal and retry at the next feeding time.

  3. 3

    Leave the room if the patient doesn't require regular supervision. It will be easier to accept the patient not eating if he is out of sight for a few minutes and you can take a break or focus on other things.

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