HHA Hacks: My client won’t eat!

May 23, 2022

As a home health aide ensuring that your client has nutritious meals is a very important part of your daily duties. You may be called upon to serve pre-prepared meals or even prepare them yourself with the guidance of the dietary instructions in the Plan of Care.

It seems easy enough, but what if your client doesn’t want to eat?

First, try to rule out serious health conditions, medication side effects, and dental problems. If you discover any of these, please report them to the nurse assigned to your client so they can be addressed.

Once you have made sure that these are not the reasons for your client’s lack of appetite, you can experiment with different ways to entice them to eat more.

You will need to be very patient with your client as it may not work on the first attempt, but if you keep trying eventually you will find what works.

Solve discomfort caused by medication side effects

Dry mouth is a common side effect of some medications. If your client is able, you can ask them to chew some sugarless gum, brush their teeth, or use an oral rinse to get saliva flowing and reduce discomfort. This can also awaken their taste buds which will make them more willing to eat.

Get rid of strange tastes caused by medication side effects

Some medications will leave a bad taste in your client’s mouth that can affect the way food or water tastes. You can try using plant-based protein if meat tastes strange. Sometimes metal silverware can add to the metallic taste, try using plastic utensils instead.

You can add mint, sliced fruit, lemon, or cucumber to a glass of water to make it easier to drink.

Make mealtime a pleasant experience

Your client may miss the days when dining used to be a wonderful experience. Set the mood with a nice table setting and candles and put on some soft music.

It can be lonely and depressing to eat alone and on a schedule. Take the time to sit and eat with them, chat, and make it entertaining.

Give choice and control

Your client has probably lost control of so many parts of their life that refusing to eat can be a way for them to regain some of that control.

Give them back some of their independence by involving them in meal planning as much as you can.

Limit fluids during meals

Dehydration can suppress appetite, so it is important to keep your client hydrated.

You can offer a sip or two to help moisten and swallow food safely but serving too many fluids can fill them up too much to eat.

Try to save the majority of beverages for after the meal and encourage them to drink water between meals as a healthy habit.

Adjust the flavors

Taste buds become less sensitive as we age or if we are ill and bland foods certainly don’t help.

Try using more flavorful seasonings to improve the taste. However, make sure you are not increasing your client’s sodium or sugar intake beyond the recommended level.

Take advantage of hungry moments

If your client asks for more food, don’t hesitate to give second helpings or larger portions.

It is best to take advantage of those moments when their appetite opens up to get a few more calories and nutrients into their body.

 You can try any or a combination of these hacks to get your client back on track with a nutritious diet. If nothing seems to be working, make sure to notify the nurse assigned to your client if other methods are needed.

* Please note, this post is for advertisement purposes only and may not contain any licensed medical staff or actual medical procedures. Do not substitute the information in this post for medical or legal advice from a certified and licensed professional.*

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