Help with elderly Mum not eating

Hi, I am really worried about my elderly Mum, after suffering from a heavy cold 2 weeks ago she has stopped eating, (no more than a mouthful) and drinking, (just sips of tea or water). I have been in touch with my GP who has been supportive but is at a loss. Mum can’t really explain why she can’t eat, just that she doesn’t feel like it. I can see her becoming weaker, she hasn’t walked for over 2 weeks now. Short of sending her to hospital, (what could they do anyway?) I am at a loss and feel so very sad that I am watching her fading before my eyes. Does anyone have any advice, sympathy or have experienced a similar thing with their loved ones. Thank you. Dawn


Hi Dawn,

How old is your Mum? Prior to the cold, what was her cold like?

If she has had a heavy cold, her taste is probably impaired and if she isn’t moving about she probably doesn’t have much appetite. Are there any strong flavoured foods she likes that she would have? Will she eat puddings, soups, milkshakes anything at all like that or drink build up drinks (the GP can prescribe these.)

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Thank you so much for your prompt response. My Mum is 94, she has never been very interested in food, although she ate most things I cooked for her. Even getting her to drink is becoming difficult, I have tried Fortysip which she has had before but she won’t drink them. Mum is sleeping a lot more and it seems like she has given up, maybe she has. I feel so terribly sad all the time. Dawn

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Hi Dawn,

I’m not saying this to upset you, but
it may be that she is reaching the end of her journey and your Mum’s body is in control of the situation now.

Your Mum is an amazing age and it sounds like you have given her excellent care and support.

It could be time to prepare for end of life care. You can receive support for this.

Here is a link:

It has supportive links at the bottom of the page.

Please pop back onto the forum at any time, we are here for you.

I’m going to make what will seem a horrible suggestion now, so apologies in advance.
When my mum ws very ill, I googled “Signs of Dying” with tears streaming down my face.

I found some wonderful articles written by people from hospices, explaining how the body gradually slows down, not at the end, but a gradual process over many years.
I wished I’d read them when the first of our four parents was ill, or doctors took time to explain.

Apparently a body knows the organs are not working as well as they used to.
If kidneys are not working as well, the body will only accept the amount of fluid it can cope with.
If the digestion system isn’t working so well, it will only take on board the amount of food it can cope with.
So never force someone to eat or drink, let the body decide. A “little and often” may be better than a “proper” meal. My mum found Mr. Kipling cakes the easiest food, they come in packets with inner cellophane packs for two, so she would have them by her side and have a snack when she felt like it. She survived until she was 87.

My mum recovered a bit, and lasted for 2 more years, becoming more frail every day. Her last year was spent in a nursing home so she had 24/7 care. She agreed that she NEEDED this, even if it wasn’t what she wanted. Try to make a “back up plan” in case something changes suddenly. A good nursing home or hospice is better than a hospital at end of life.

This would be a good time to think about what funeral director to use, what music mum would like, who should know. Again, I’m not saying mum’s death is imminent, but things can change quickly. It gives you time to add things to the plan, that you might forget in a crisis situation.

My husband died suddenly from a heart attack when he was 58, we were all in shock.
We ran a national enthusiasts club and over 200 people from all over the UK attended, standing room only in the crematorium.

I’m currently thinking about what I would like for my own funeral. When my time comes I want it to be small and intimate. I want the song “Play your own kind of music…”

I feel sad for you. Emotional time.
My circumstances were different to yours. Won’t go into details now but my lovely husband died at 73. Towards the end of his life, I googled signs of dying,after reading bowlingbun found it helpful,even though tears were flowing. Yes, I found it helpful and yes, the tears were plenty. However I had more of an idea, and was able to brace myself.
Some may think what a strange thing to do I understand that

Thank you all so much for the online support and helpful comments, My Mum saw our GP this morning, she was awake, alert, even cracking jokes with the doctor! Her vital signs were all good, it was unbelievable really. But of course the day I am dreading will come but not yet it seems. Thank you all. Dawn x


That’s great news, Dawn.

My mum’s last few months were like a roller coaster ride. One day I went home telling my eldest son that it would only be a day or two now, then the next day she was sat up in bed reading the paper her usual chatty self!! So confusing for all of us.
Enjoy the good days while you can.


It’s good to hear Dawn. Please keep posting, we are here for the ups and the downs xx


My grandma was similar towards the last few years, she completely stopped eating a few weeks before. It was horrible to see and all my love goes out to you. They can give her something called complan which is liquid food with all the nutrients one needs so that could be a good option, it’s also used on people who’ve had major bowel surgery and can’t eat solid food. It’s a good option to get something into her.

All the best!

So sorry to hear of your experience Dawn. I can empathise.

My mother has lost a significant amount of weight after a number of set backs trying to recover from a stroke last year (first fractured hip, then Covid).
Her weight went down to close to 8st 10 ibs. Finally felt she’d turned a corner last week, and she was back above 9st, but my Dad was admitted to hospital last Friday with back pain and it’s been downhill from there.
Appetite has gone again, and she has taken to going to bed at 7pm now she is on her own.

So it really is a rolercoaster - I’ve learnt not to be complacent and get my hopes up too high as they have been dashed so often.

How is your mother today? Wishing you all the best. It’s the most painful thing in the world watching your parents decline. And you know what they need to do, but they don’t do it, and it makes you angry because you have no control; and sad because you are in essence in the middle of a long drawn out grief for a slow loss that you have no option but be forced to be an observer of.

Take care.

Hope you are feeling ok now Dawn.

My Mum loved her food, buying it, cooking it and eating it!! She always had a healthy appetite and we are all sure that’s what kept her going until nearly 97. She was a fantastic cook and could make a meal out of anything.

Thanks to the covid visiting restrictions I believe she lost the will to live in the last year of her life. It was just dreadful as she was lonely, anxious, tearful, confused and missed seeing us all. She went right off her food and barely drank and all she wanted to do was sleep.

Do take care. Xx