You have just made a big batch of Mom’s special chili recipe. The house smells yummy, and you can’t wait to eat. Yet while you are savoring not only the taste but the memories the meal invokes, Mom is just stirring the food around in her bowl. And it is not the first time. Lately her appetite is diminishing, and it’s beginning to concern you.
What Are Some Common Causes of Loss of Appetite in Elderly Loved Ones?
Diminished appetite is quite common for many elderly adults, for a variety of reasons, including:
- Depression and/or grief
- A routine that doesn’t include regular mealtimes
- Feeling as though they’ve lost control over other aspects of life
- Loss of taste or smell that makes food less appealing
- Difficulty with preparing meals
- Problems with chewing, swallowing, or self-feeding
- A sedentary lifestyle
- Loneliness and having no one to share meals with
When investigating the causes of loss of appetite in elderly loved ones, it’s important to first speak to the person’s health care provider and dentist to rule out any medical ailments or medication side effects that may be causing the problem. Once it is determined that there isn’t a clinical reason for the change in appetite, try these strategies to help restore the person’s joy in eating and to improve nutrition.
- Provide high-calorie foods in small quantities. As an alternative to three large meals each day, try smaller portions more frequently. You can still prepare larger batches of favorite dishes, dividing them up into individual portions that can be frozen and reheated. Other foods to try that will offer necessary nutrients include whole milk, finely chopped meat or eggs, yogurt, diced fruit, avocado, peanut butter or other nut butters.
- Incorporate softer options. During the summer months when fresh fruit is particularly delicious, try blending up some healthy smoothies. Summer is also a great time for milkshakes, ice cream, and frozen yogurt. Make it more festive and fun by inviting your family over to make their own custom treats and enjoying them outdoors together.
- Create a schedule. Rather than waiting until the person says they’re hungry, set designated times every day and stick to a routine for meals. It may take some trial and error to figure out the best schedule, but give the new schedule some time to work before adjusting. Be sure the person’s routine includes an adequate amount of exercise and physical activity as well, which helps to improve appetite.
- Adapt foods and utensils accordingly. If self-feeding is difficult, there are a variety of adaptive utensils to explore. You can also make mealtimes easier by serving food that is cut into small, bite-size portions, as well as finger foods including sandwiches, fish sticks, string cheese, chicken tenders, etc.
Morning Glory Home Care is here to help older adults overcome hurdles to eating healthy. We can prepare nutritious meals and snacks, supply motivation to stay physically active, and offer friendly companionship during mealtime to make it more enjoyable. Get in touch with us online or at 618-667-8400 to learn more about how our home care services can help a person you love in Highland, Granite City, Alton, and nearby communities.