More often than not, seniors deal with a lot of health and medical conditions, making proper nutrition essential in keeping their strength up. However, there are days when they don’t seem to have a healthy appetite. This can be especially worrying when this behavior persists.
Loss of appetite in the elderly can be caused by several factors, primarily their slowing metabolism and lower activity levels. Dental problems such as ill-fitting dentures or trouble chewing and swallowing are also causes of appetite loss. Dehydration is also a factor to consider, as well as side effects from medication.
Before taking steps to get your elderly loved one’s appetite back, it’s important to first rule out serious health problems or medication side effects as the cause of their refusal to eat. If you suspect that they may be suffering from a serious medical condition or are being negatively affected by their medication, have them checked immediately. The same also applies to dental problems.
However, if these are not the primary causes of their appetite loss, you can try out the following methods to bring back your senior loved one’s taste for food:
Support Their Food Choices
As their golden years progress, many seniors tend to feel that they’re losing control of many things. For the elderly, this can be hard to accept and their frustrations may manifest into depression and loss of appetite.
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If your elderly loved one refuses to eat, it may be because they feel they have no say in what is prepared for them. Make them feel more empowered by letting them choose what they want to eat or involve them in meal planning. By helping them regain control over this aspect of their life, they will be more inclined to enjoy eating.
Strive To Make Mealtimes Pleasant
Loneliness and the absence of company are also factors that can discourage seniors from eating. Thus, strive to make mealtimes pleasant for them by sitting down to eat and chat with them. Taste and smell are closely linked. … by bringing them into the kitchen, they can enjoy mealtime prep and smell the food as it’s being prepared. The aroma of food triggers cannabinoid receptors which are the nervous system’s link to the olfactory section of the brain. Basically, the smell of food will help trigger their hunger. Put on some soft music, use their favorite colors for table linens, and brighten up the atmosphere with some candles. If you can, encourage the rest of the family to participate and share mealtimes together.
Encourage Smaller, Frequent Meals or Healthy Snacking
If your senior loved one can’t handle big meals, offer them smaller, more frequent meals instead. Healthy snacks are also a good alternative that can help keep their nutrient intake up without pressuring them into eating huge meals. Finger foods like sandwiches, diced fruit, cheese and crackers, and other healthy snacks will make it easy for them to enjoy eating.
A Good Mood Leads to a Full Tummy
It’s often the case that seniors have difficulty eating, which can lead them to refuse meals altogether. If you’ve ruled out medical or dental conditions as reasons for their appetite loss, make it a point to involve them in meal planning and make mealtimes easier and more enjoyable for them. Let them find pleasure in eating again by not just serving them healthy food, but sharing a meal with them.
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