Dear Mary: No Dinner For My Father

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Dear Mary: No Dinner For My FatherDear Mary,

I dropped by after work a couple of times this week to see my parents who are both in their mid 70’s. I was shocked to find the house in darkness, my Mother asleep and my Dad watching TV. I asked him if they had had an early supper. He just simply said, there is no supper tonight. He said basically the same thing on my second visit this week. Seems Mom sleeps alot in the afternoon and does not make supper anymore. What? Why? As of when?

Many nights my Father makes some toast and jam for his dinner around 8:30 when he starts to get hungry. He was not really sure when my mother ate. He also told me that she gets very mad if he starts to make dinner, so he does not bother anyone. Just not worth another fight. What should I do? I hate the thought of them not eating properly. I work all day and cannot drop by every day to check on them.



Dear Mike:

Seems like your Father has given up trying and your mother just does not care about cooking anymore. Eating healthy foods is clearly important for your parents. Here is what I use to do for my parents.

I started to bring in all kinds of food pre-cooked for them. Sometimes I made it myself, but I learned to grocery shop with the idea of what could I put in their refrigerator that would be:




When my Mother stopped cooking, it was one of the major signs that her mental health was changing. I think that she just forgot how to cook and did not bother to even try anymore. I think it would be important to have your Mother checked out by a medical doctor.

Assume that your parents will not be able to handle their eating requirements going forward without help. You need to help out by either brining in food for them or working with others to delivery at least some of the meals.

At some point you might start to have the conversation with your parents about getting some in-home help or moving them to a senior home where all the meals are made for them. It is not likely that they will volunteer for either, but it would be wise to start that conversation.

Good luck with your parents. This is clearly part of the journey as our parents’ health declines. The “good old days” of having your parents prepare and eat healthy meals on their own are gone for your family. You can no longer assume that they are eating well without your help and possibly the help of others.


Message from Mary Bart: I was my parents’ principal caregiver for ten years. I have first-hand experience in helping aging parents, dealing with family dynamics, protecting parents from elder abuse and working with public and private organizations. Do you have a question for me? Please email your questions to:

An important note: I love answering your questions, but I also encourage you to seek professional legal, financial, or medical assistance. Mary.


| Caregiving Expert

Mary Bart is the Chair of Caregiving Matters, a registered charity that offers education and support to family caregivers. She was her parents’ principal caregiver for ten years and first-hand experience in helping aging parents, dealing wit...