Loss Of Appetite: Understanding The Causes And How To Encourage Better Eating For Seniors

As you age, it isn't uncommon to lose your appetite. However, there comes a time when a decreased appetite is a sign of an underlying issue. If it goes undetected and untreated, it can result in major issues for your elderly loved one. After all, healthy eating is a crucial part in maintaining one's overall health. Read on to learn about the causes of decreased appetite and how to stimulate better eating in senior citizens.

Why Your Loved One May Have a Decreased Appetite

  • Loneliness or Depression – Being cooped up in the house and away from friends can easily cause loneliness and depression in the elderly. It can also result in them losing their appetite.
  • Denture Issues – Continuous wear of dentures or dentures that do not fit properly can cause significant discomfort. If your elderly loved one is suffering from a sore mouth and gums, they may lose their appetite simply because of the pain solid foods cause.
  • Side Effects from Medication – There are certain medications that are more prone to cause nausea and even a decreased appetite in the elderly. If you're worried that medication may be the source of your loved one's loss of appetite, it is crucial that you speak to their doctor. There may be a change that can be made to the medication they are taking.
  • Disease or Illness – In some cases, a loss of appetite can be a sign that something serious is wrong. There are certain illnesses and diseases that are known to cause a decreased appetite, including some cancers, thyroid disorders and Alzheimer's disease. If your loved one has a sudden change in weight (loss or gain), make sure to speak to their doctor immediately.

Tips for Encouraging Your Elderly Loved One's Appetite

  • Create a Schedule – Just as a set routine is important for a child, the same is true for the elderly. Create a plan for meals that will allow all three main meals of the day, as well as morning and afternoon snacks, to be given at the exact same time each day. After creating this plan, it is crucial that you stick to it for your loved one.
  • Get Social – Senior citizens often get lonely, especially when they begin to lose their independence and find themselves confined to their home majority of the time. Whenever you can, join your loved one for their meals. In fact, make it a family dinner once or twice a week where several family members come over. A community center, senior center or church is also helpful in keeping your loved one from the depression and loneliness that may come from eating by themselves.
  • Decrease Portions and Increase Nutrients and Calories – If you stick a lot of food on a plate and place it in front of a senior citizen, it can overwhelm them and keep them from eating. Instead, opt for smaller portions of food. You can always get them a second helping if they need or want it. With the smaller portion sizes, make sure that they are getting plenty of calories and nutrients each day by adding in peanut butter, whole yogurt or cream to meals.

If at any point in time you become concerned with your loved one's eating habits, it is crucial that you reach out to a health care professional for assistance. Since a decreased appetite can be the sign of a serious underlying health condition, it should not be ignored. To learn more, contact a business like ComForcare Home Care - Bloomfield Hills, MI.