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Elderly parents

DF not eating or drinking.

16 replies

Middaymatters · 08/03/2023 12:19

Can anybody offer any advice? My 84 yr old DF was diagnosed with a melanoma last year. It was treated but it’s still spreading so he’s just started immunotherapy. About 3 weeks ago, just before he started treatment, he became unwell with what we thought was a stomach bug. Felt sick, no appetite. He took to his bed and literally has been there ever since. He managed to get to the hospital for his first treatment but then when straight home to bed. He lives with my mum (80) and she reports he is not eating at all and barely drinking. We encouraged her to speak to GP. She got hold of a lovely nurse practitioner who prescribed diazepam and sertraline. Part of my DF issue is he is extremely anxious about vomiting.

He’s been on these a week now. Appreciate sertraline will take some time to kick in. probably is, he’s still not eating or drinking. It’s been almost a month now. He had a fall when he went to the loo, possibly because he’s feeling frail with so little nutrition.

I don’t know what to do. I don’t live close. I’m encouraging my mum to go back to the GP but my dad can be stubborn. He’s gone from an active, dashing about OAP to completely bed bound. Any advice?? Thank you.

OP posts:

LittlePinkPill · 08/03/2023 12:31

She could get some nutritional shakes (not diet) such as buildup, fortisip, ensure or similar nutritional shakes from the pharmacy.
The GP will likely even prescribe them but, if she wants to give it a go to see if he would actually drink a bit, they sell them in quite a few places even also available on Amazon or boots, you could send an order maybe?
Definitely encourage her to speak to the GP though.


Middaymatters · 08/03/2023 12:55

Thanks for replying. She has been trying to get him to eat/drink Complan but he’s just refusing. Have you any idea what she could ask the GP? Do appetite stimulates work (OTC or prescribed)? I’ve this horrible fear he’s just going to keep deteriorating but he needs his immune system at full strength to try and battle this cancer 😢

OP posts:

Crazykefir · 08/03/2023 12:59

Mum just needs to tell the gp whats going on. Its up to the GP to make a decesion about the next steps. Im sorry your all going through this, hand hold from me xxx


Middaymatters · 08/03/2023 13:51

❤thank you. I’m feeling pretty helpless right now.

OP posts:

MereDintofPandiculation · 08/03/2023 14:10

Try him on tiny quantities of his favourites. Don’t worry about good nutrition, just aim for calories. Anything that he will eat is good.

keep a detailed record of exactly what he eats. Sometimes “he’s eaten literally nothing” means “he didn’t want breakfast but had a couple of biscuits with his coffee, toyed with a piece of cake at lunchtime, another couple of biscuits in the afternoon, a bowl of icecream at teatime and another biscuit at bedtime”. A diary record helps get the message across.


MereDintofPandiculation · 08/03/2023 14:11

And tell the GP of course, perhaps ask for referral to dietician


Marchforward · 08/03/2023 14:12

Have you asked him why he isn’t eating or drinking? Is it definitely ‘just’ the fear of vomiting or is he worried about making it to the loo? Or is he giving up?


CrotchetyQuaver · 08/03/2023 14:13

I think your DM needs to ask the surgery for a home visit. It doesn't sound like he's well enough to go to them. He needs to be seen by the sound of it. My own experience of getting the GP to come to my mum was I had to grovel obviously and explain exactly why I was asking. In her case it turned out to be a broken leg from a fall and an established infection as well. Pl I knew was she was nearly passing out whilst I was trying to help her get dressed for the appointment and whilst we could get her downstairs on her bottom step by step, we wouldn't be able to get her back up there. GP did come out almost immediately as she was 1st afternoon appointment and I rang 30 mins before. He admitted her to hospital and we took her there with helpers to get her in the car. This sounds a similar type of situation where a home visit is justified.


RatherBeRiding · 08/03/2023 14:14

How on board is he with his cancer treatment? Is this his way of saying he's had enough?


LifeExperience · 08/03/2023 14:21

I've attended a few elderly relatives who were dying, and all stopped eating or drinking near the end. It's very common. Your father's cancer may have progressed more than you know. I'm sorry, OP, but my suspicion is that he's ready to go.


MrsWobble3 · 08/03/2023 14:40

I’m sorry OP but this sounds similar to my mother’s end. What I would do in your position is insist on a home visit from the GP to rule out any obvious temporary issues. You may have to insist quite firmly as they may be reluctant - DH had to have an argument with the receptionist and the senior partner before they agreed to a home visit. But once the GP came they were excellent. She spoke at length to my mother, my father and me - individually and together - and gently suggested we should all think about what we wanted to happen next - hospital, hospice or home. It was awful, but needed to be said, and I think we probably all knew what was happening anyway. But it meant we had a few days together before the end and my brother who lives abroad was able to get back.
I wish you and your family all the best.


Doggydooda · 08/03/2023 14:43

Has he had his liver investigated? Has the GP prescribed anti sickness medications? It sounds as if he needs a full medical review.


Middaymatters · 08/03/2023 22:12

Thank you to you all for your advice and personal experiences. I’m truly grateful. I am worried that he has ‘given up’ but it makes me so angry/sad/helpless as less than a month ago he seemed absolutely fine.

He is, however, a very private person. When he was diagnosed he told us by text and asked us not to talk about it when we spoke. It’s therefore very difficult to get his true thoughts and feelings from him.

He’s had a recent scan and bloods but nothing has been reported back as yet. I, of course, fear that his decline is due to the cancer spreading. If that’s not the case though, his current condition is really puzzling.

I’ll encourage my mum to try and get the GP out but she seems as reluctant as him to talk about things. Anti sickness drugs have been mentioned so I’ll suggest she ask about that again.

The idea to actually monitor what he eats is a good suggestion. If he truly is eating nothing, diary evidence of this would be good to show the GP.

Thanks again everyone. Xx

OP posts:

PermanentTemporary · 09/03/2023 23:23

I would try to make sure someone always eats or drinks with him.

Is he definitely taking his medication?


Ihatethenewlook · 09/03/2023 23:27

Op, in the kindest way possible, I want to ask do you think he wants to get better? What’s the best possible outcome of forcing him to eat and drink again?


AllBellyandBoobs · 09/03/2023 23:34

This is also similar to my mum in her final week or two. Do you have any contact with the palliative care team? We were fortunate to have their involvement from the initial diagnosis, I would ask for a visit from them if possible. They treat the whole person rather than a disease.

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