Posted 2 years ago

How to Cope with Appetite Loss in a Loved One: Advice for Caregivers

Caregiving for a loved one with cancer can be difficult with all of the various aspects that need managing.  Whether it be keeping track of appointments and treatment, managing side effects and medication, caregiving can often feel like a full-time job.  More often than not, nutrition tends to be greatest source of contention between caregivers and patients.  Below are a few quick tips to help address appetite loss in your loved one.

Remember, you are not driving the bus.

This can be hard to reconcile, but true.  As a caregiver, you are there to support the patient and help in a way that is most meaningful and honoring to them, not you.  Quality of Life is different for everyone.  Caregiving in a way that best aligns with the patient’s quality of life can help reduce conflict.

Make a Variety of Options Available.

Due to changes in one’s ability to taste, what is good one day may not be another.  Having a variety of food options available and in close proximity can be helpful.  This will allow the patient the ability to access food if/when they are experiencing hunger.

Try not to monitor the food intake.

Unless requested by a physician for a specific medical purpose, try not to monitor and/or keep a log of what your loved one is consuming.  While doing so can be a tedious task to take on, it can also place unintended pressure on your loved one to consume food so that they don’t “disappoint” you.

Speak with a Dietitian

Ironwood has two Dietitians that are geographically located to help assist you and your loved one with specific questions you might have related to their nutritional needs.  Additionally, they are able to make recommendations related to foods that are more calorie dense, higher in protein, etc.

If there is something your loved one wants, let them have it!

If there is an occasion in which your loved one does not want the “healthy” meal being offered, but wants chips, allow them to have the chips.  While it is not ideal, some nutrition is better than no nutrition.


If you are interested in additional tips to help you navigate the world of Caregiving, be sure to join the Caregiver Support Group. The group is currently held via Zoom the 3rd Saturday of every month, from 10am-12pm.