Encouraging elderly husband to eat

My very elderly husband (much older than me) has multiple illnesses, C.O.P.D.; Prostate Cancer; mobility problems; heart problems and now a post-op hernia His appetite has shrunk over last few months and I am finding it hard to give him nutritious food that he can enjoy. Any tips please?

My husband is 80 in a few days and I do understand your problem and truly sympathise as one cannot make a person eat. . We had an excellent Dietician but he would not take her advice. Have you thought about Fortisips? They are liquid so are easy to take and do provide all of the vitamins and protein. They are available on the NHS .Soups have been suggested by some. Things that are light and easy to digest such as scrambled eggs?

I am sure others will have more suggestions. My husband lives off chocolate and Fortisps with the occasional banana and apple. He will occasionally have crispbread with cheese. If your husband is losing weight, I would at least talk to the GP. My husband now weighs around 8st 7 - he used to weigh 11st 7 so it has been a huge but gradual weight loss over 3 years.

Hi Sue,
his appetite is probably small as he won’t be burning much energy, so try serving small amounts on a side plate, as its less off putting.

Don’t focus purely on the nutritious element, focus more on what he fancies - a lot of very elderly folk prefer food from their own childhood - shepherd’s pie, cake and custard, rice pudding, trifle etc

Cream can be added to foods, a thick layer of butter, choose full fat options etc My friend’s aunt was very poorly and lost a lot of weight. She now has very small portions but has still gained weight, as she is finishing what she is served, and eating more calories than she is burning. If she has a ready meal, she has half of one and that is plenty.


Hi Sue. Would he eat/enjoy soup? I have a soup maker and it’s brilliant (and easy) for making nutrious soup and you can make it completely smooth (even things like pea and ham), so it’s nutritious but easy to eat and digest. Soup is very filling and of course, nutritious and you can freeze it in batches, which might make life easier for you. There are also companies such as Wiltshire Foods who deliver ready-made frozen meals, which you can cook from frozen and you can choose ‘minced’ or ‘pureed’ - or just ‘soft’ if your husband can manage that. I ordered some for my dad and they were very good. They don’t have a minimum order quantity, so you could order 2 or 3 and see how you get on.

I hope that helps. Your GP should be able to prescribe Fortisips, which are drinks full of nutrition.

Thank you all for suggestions.
He is already on Fortisips.
Now find that instead of dishing up a meal for him I let him help himself from casseroles or whatever on the table - he can eat as much or as little as he wants or nothing at all. Have tried to stop worrying about it.

Sue, be wary of Fortisips - many elderly people find them very filling and they can spoil their appetite for real meals. Therefore they are best not drunk too close to a meal.


My mum’s principle diet for years was Mr. Kipling cakes.
She had all sorts of problems with her digestion. The cakes came in a packet of 6, but were wrapped inside in packets of two, so she could nibble as and when she felt like it. Despite 28 different medical problems, she survived until she was 87!

I think you would find some articles about digestion in the elderly and the seriously ill really helpful.

When my mum was very ill, I googled “Signs of Dying” and found some really well written articles about how the body very gradually slows down, over a period of years, as the organs are no longer working as well as they used to.

I’ve had some major operations, and these articles also seemed to explain how I felt afterwards. After one operation in particular, I stressed to the hostess that I wanted a small light meal, but the kitchen sent me enough for a lumberjack! I just pushed it away, the very thought of trying to put it off was just too much. I didn’t want a sandwich either, just a bowl of soup and a small roll would have been so much better.
So I am NOT for one moment suggesting your husband is dying, I just don’t know where else to recommend to see articles like this.