As a person ages, it is natural to have a decrease in appetite. Unfortunately, this decrease in a seniors appetite could mean that they aren’t getting the necessary nutrients they need each day. This could eventually lead to further health problems. All of this can be avoided by understanding exactly why your loved one isn’t eating properly and how you can make their meals and snacks more appealing.
Possible Causes of a Decreased Appetite
There are many reasons why an elderly person will stop eating as much as they should. If you can pinpoint the cause, you’ll have a better time correcting the situation.
A lack of exercise will decrease anyone’s appetite. As a person ages, they naturally slow down. If their body isn’t burning many calories, they simply won’t feel hungry. This goes hand in hand with dehydration. If they don’t feel thirsty, they may not consume enough liquids. Dehydration will leave them feeling tired and nauseated, which never makes one eager to eat.
Sometimes the reason a seniors appetite decreases is as simple as a lack of routine. Throughout one’s life, there is a routine of work or school and scheduled meals. Once a daily routine is eliminated, it becomes easier to skip eating. Combine this with an inability to make their own meals, and they could be missing out on many needed nutrients.
Other possible causes are more serious. The elderly often experience a lack of ability to taste. Foods they once loved will now seem flavorless. If everything tastes the same, it is hard to be excited over eating. Many elderly people have trouble chewing, swallowing, and eating independently as well. These challenges can make meals and snacks feel like a difficult task rather then an enjoyable experience.
Most importantly, a senior needs to feel independent while still remaining involved with others. Loneliness and depression are both contributing factors when it comes to a loss of appetite. Keep in mind that your loved one is still a human being. No one likes feeling dependent on others for all their daily needs. This further adds to the feeling of depression.
Once you have narrowed down the possible causes of a seniors appetite decreasing, you can start looking for a solution. Keep in mind that each person is an individual. What might work for one, may not for another? Try some of the following ideas, and keep a journal that records how your loved one reacts to each method you try. This journal will help you create the ideal menu for increasing their appetite, and it can be a useful reference when discussing their health issues with their doctor.
Begin by putting a regular meal and snack schedule in place. Knowing exactly when to expect breakfast, lunch, and dinner will help them anticipate meals. Their body will also get used to eating at these times of the day. As a meal approaches, they will naturally begin to feel hungry. Serve smaller portions that won’t overwhelm them, and make sure each meal includes plenty of high nutrient foods.
Some elderly people have trouble using their hands due to issues like arthritis. This can make it difficult to use eating utensils. Consider including finger foods like French fries, appetizers, and other easy to eat items in their menu. You can also keep healthy snacks on hand. Place them nearby where they can easily reach them. Think about all the times you would like to bring a gift to your loved one but are not sure what to get them. Make a snack basket for them filled with nuts, peanut butter crackers, fruits, and vegetables.
If the senior in your care has trouble chewing, you’ll have to be creative when it comes to mealtime. Serve milkshakes with fruits or berries in them or a smoothie that incorporates vegetables. It can be a wonderful dessert or snack that offers nutrients they need for good health, but don’t think that they should be restricted to pureed foods. Serve items that are familiar and tasty like mashed potatoes, oatmeal, pudding, and other foods that don’t require a lot of effort to chew.
How LaBier Assisted Living can Help
The staff at LaBier Assisted Living can help you create a meal and snack plan that your loved one will look forward to eating. They are knowledgeable and ready to help by preparing nutritious foods that are easy to eat and packed with nutrients. By working together, you and LaBier can come up with a successful plan for increasing the appetite of the senior in your life.