As we age our eating habits definitely begin to change. Some of us get hunger pangs and can eat everything in sight, while others start to have bird-like appetites. As we age, more often than not, we tend to eat less or sometimes we lose our appetites. Now this does not necessarily mean there is an underlying issue, but we should definitely be aware that our seniors are getting the nutrition they need. We should stay aware of how often they are eating, a complete loss of appetite and not eating at all is a sign that there could be a serious problem.
Reasons for Loss of Appetite:
Less active: as we get older, it is no doubt we are less mobile. In addition to this, our metabolisms to slow down which means we need to intake less calories, since it takes longer for our bodies to breakdown the food.
Dentures: We have all probably experienced sensitive teeth or gums at some point in our lives which made it difficult or unpleasant for us to eat. Wrong sized or discomfort from dentures can turn off the elderly to eating, especially solid foods. A good alternative would be to eat softer foods.
Lack of meal preparation and routine: think about cooking a good meal for yourself, preparing food takes time and energy and as we get older we lack that energy to go make food every day at meal times. Eating at different hours of the day every day can make us feel hungry at odd hours – try setting a specific time for meal preparation and a routine meal time to ensure hungry at those hours.
Sensitivity: often times they have changes in smells and tastes which can affect eating habits and make them feel nauseous around certain foods.
Hydration: keep a loved one always hydrated especially if they aren’t eating as much as we’d like. We get some of our fluid intake from food so it is important to keep drinking, if there is little food intake. In addition, drink fluids with electrolytes this helps even more.
Nutrients: sometimes it is not about the portion size but the nutrients in the foods. Eating foods that are very nutrient dense can help our elderly loved ones get the nutrients they need without having to eat a lot of food they aren’t hungry for. This link is a great source for tips and food ideas for anyone with a lack of appetite.
Social Meals: Encourage social meals, it is a lot easier to eat with some friends than alone. If we see others eat may induce an appetite and we will probably want to eat more.
It is important to realize that we cannot force anyone to eat. If they do not want to, then we simply need to accept that. However, going long periods without eating is worrisome. It is important to notice the difference between eating small portions and not eating at all. We all we want the best for our loved ones, so let’s look after them and ensuring they are eating properly!
CNP, Jon Yaneff. “Loss of Appetite in Elderly: Symptoms, Causes, and Natural Treatment.” Daily Free Health Articles and Natural Health Advice, 27 Sept. 2017, www.doctorshealthpress.com/food-and-nutrition-articles/loss-of-appetite-in-elderly-symptoms-causes-and-natural-treatment/.
Stevenson, Sarah. “Loss of Appetite in the Elderly.” Senior Assisted Living Guides: Find Senior Care A Place for Mom, 29 Mar. 2016, www.aplaceformom.com/blog/01-23-2013-loss-of-appetite-in-elderly/.
“Why Do Seniors Lose Their Appetites?” DailyCaring, dailycaring.com/why-do-seniors-lose-their-appetites/.