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Dad Is Losing Weight


I believe my 85-year-old father is losing weight. I don't think he is eating well. I have just noticed that his clothes do not seem to fit well anymore. He is rather cryptic about his weight loss, so I can never get a straight answer from him as to his weight, what he eats, or if he has any loss of appetite. He lives in his own home, manages his finances, and drives his car just fine. It is not easy to have the conversation with him about his weight without feeling like I am invading his privacy.

How do I go about figuring out what is going on with his weight?



Very carefully, I would say. If he is as independent as you say and rather private, extracting information from him may not be that easy.

Since you do not live with him, it is likely that you will notice a change in weight more easily than he might. Though, I do believe he already knows he is losing weight. He may have a disease process that is causing the weight loss, and the disease could be physiological or psychological.

The challenge is, as you identified, finding out what your father knows and if it is necessary for you to assist him in some way. He may need assistance shopping now. Maybe food preparation may have presented new challenges that he is not willing to overcome. His teeth may be bothering him, making eating difficult. If he has lost interest in food, it could be due to depression or dementia. He may have a broken scale and is unaware of how noticeable his weight loss is. Any one or combination of the above, or a variety of other reasons, may be the cause.

You can gather quite a bit of information by eating some meals with him. Ideally, you would also cook and/or grocery shop with him. Have relaxing conversation about current events. Maybe share a glass of wine together. Find out if he is interested in the present, if he is keeping up, if he remembers recent events. Talk about health. Talk about the future. Engage.

Often when we visit our parents, we do not spend enough time to see them in their daily routine.  We do not always know what is really going on in their world or how they are living. You want to respect their adult privacy and at the same time be a support if and when they need it.

It seems like in this situation you need to get a little closer so that you can help figure out what the cause is and assist your father to resolve the situation. His doctor can certainly be of assistance, but you must first get close enough to engage your father. You know your father best. Usually, an interest of his will open a door to conversation. This will be a bit of a journey together for the two of you.

I wish you the best.