Hi, Barb here from DesMoinesConnections.com. I'm not a dietician and certainly don't know about your senior's medical condition, but here are just a few common sense ideas to help you out if Mom or Dad just aren't eating well.
If he or she has had recent surgery, it takes awhile to get the appetite back. Medications, especially pain meds, seem to make folks want to sleep more and eat less. In a facility, your days and nights are totally mixed up. You really don't see much of the sun coming up or setting and nurses come in at all hours - so that can be a problem getting back in sync. Mom or Dad may be more of a "night person" or "early morning" person. Whichever she is, you'll want to cater to that by way of visiting, serving the best meals, entertainment, etc.
Will he or she drink water? You really need to push that if she will. Dehydration is a big issue and can cause confusion, low urinary output, fevers, weakness and more. If he or she won't drink water, do they like lemonade, pop, juice, popsicles, ice chips? Try to offer them frequently.
Again, I'm not a dietitian, but I also went through this issue with my Mom. I was able to get a little more protein in her by making milkshakes and I learned that she loved sherbet. I make great sherbet shakes with lime, rainbow or whatever sherbet, a raw egg (not always recommended by the doctor set due to salmonella problems...please feel free to Google this!), milk, juice and you can add some protein powder to it. Mix it up well and get a bendy-straw. And, of course, you can do the same with chocolate, vanilla or strawberry shakes.
Personally, I think there comes a point that any foods he or she will eat is great. Serve them in very small portions so that they aren't so overwhelming. People who don't want to eat just take a look at large amounts and get immediately turned off.
Also, try to give your older adult small snacks frequently. Grazing is a great way to get things down them (examples: cottage cheese and fruit, hard boiled eggs...egg salad sandwich? tuna, deli roll-up...slice of ham and cheese to munch with a hand, banana, yogurt and more!) Also, if your senior has a craving for Long John Silver's fish, a shrimp cocktail, McDonald's and it's not going to kill them, go for it. Anything to keep their weight up and as healthy as possible. Just use your common sense as to what works....and check with a doctor or dietician should you have any concerns of any kind.
There are several meds that the doctor can prescribe such as Megace which sometimes increases appetite. Also, if he or she likes wine, it's known to help with appetite (seems to work toooooo well for me!).
Also, eat with your older parent. Lots of people don't eat as much if they are left alone. Make sure your elderly parent can chew and swallow what you give them and that they can cut it, feed themselves, etc. Are his or her teeth or dentures hurting? Make certain there are no mouth problems that need attention. Speech therapists can often conduct swallowing tests to diagnose any problems.
Please let me know if I can be of any help in being part of the care team for your senior or if you need any assistance in buying, selling or downsizing a home.
Best of luck to you and please call if I can help.
Barb Dales, DesMoinesConnections.com (website)