What to Do When Your Parent Becomes a Picky Eater


Children have a reputation for being picky eaters, but there are some older adults that can give any kid a run for their money. There are a variety of reasons seniors may become picky eaters when they weren’t picky at all before. One common reason older adults don’t want to eat is because they are constipated. Constipation impacts approximately 26% of women and 16% of men who are 65 years of age or older. It can cause abdominal discomfort and impact appetite.

Whether the adult picky eaters in your life don’t want to eat because they’re constipated or their taste buds have changed, it’s important to rise to the challenge and do what is required to get them the nutrition they need. Here are some tips from Elder Care Alliance for what to do when your parent becomes a picky eater.

What to Do When Your Parent Becomes a Picky Eater

Try Offering Healthy Foods Mixed With More Familiar Options

Sometimes picky adults may not enjoy the taste of healthy foods. If this is the case with your parents, you may want to try mixing healthy foods with more familiar comfort foods that they’re likely to accept. This is the same way you might “trick” a toddler into eating vegetables. You could add diced broccoli florets to macaroni and cheese, for example. Another good option is to add fruit chunks to oatmeal.

Focus on Ready-To-Eat Snacks

For those moments when hunger hits and your parent wants to eat, you want to take advantage of the situation quickly. Ready-to-eat snacks such as string cheese, sunflower seeds and canned soup require little to no preparation and can become a quick source of nutrients.  

Make Eating a Social Affair

Your parents may be less likely to complain about their food when they eat with other people. Try making eating a social affair by inviting your siblings or children to enjoy dinner along with your parents. You might also want to eat out occasionally at a restaurant that offers a senior-friendly menu.

Involve Your Parents in the Meal Planning Process

Adult picky eaters may be a little less picky if they have a say in what they eat. Try involving your parents in the meal planning process and taking note of their favorite meals. You may be surprised to discover how willing they are to eat when you simply take the time to ask them what they want.

Prepare Foods Your Parent Can Easily Eat

Dentures and missing teeth can make it difficult to enjoy a variety of foods. If you’re responsible for preparing meals for your parent, make sure to prepare foods that your parent is capable of eating. If your parent lives in a senior living community, check to see what types of foods are offered there. Elder Care Alliance takes great care to plan and create menus that older adults can easily enjoy.

Try New Things

Older adults experience changes to their taste buds that can make different foods taste strange or bland. If your parent no longer wants to eat foods he or she used to enjoy, don’t be afraid to try new things. Experiment until you discover new favorite foods that your picky parent actually looks forward to eating each week. It may take some persistence, but you’re bound to find at least one type of food that’s a winner (even for adult picky eaters)!

Home Office

Elder Care Alliance

1301 Marina Village Parkway
Suite 210
Alameda, CA 94501

Phone: (510) 630-2560

Fax: (510) 769-2735

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