A loss of appetite and foods just not tasting the way they used to is a common part of the aging process. However, it can be very worrying and pretty alarming to see your elderly loved one eating less and less as the days go by. As with all humans, seniors need an adequate amount of nourishment to keep them healthy, strong, and active as they age. Though a change in appetite is normal during the aging process, it just means that you have to work extra hard to make sure you prepare food that your elderly loved one will eat.
There are a few common reasons for the loss of appetite in your senior loved one. Some of these reasons include a change in taste buds, problems with dentures, a slower metabolism, lower activity levels, and dry mouth to name a few. If you are concerned that your aging loved one is eating less and less, in this list we will provide you some tips for increasing their appetite, so they stay healthy, active, and strong, and you worry less.
Below are six creative ways on how to increase appetite in elderly people:
1. Encourage the elderly to eat with others
No one enjoys eating alone, no matter what age you are. Recent studies show that depression and loneliness can be linked to a loss of appetite in the elderly. As they get older, eating becomes more of a chore than a pleasure, and when they are living alone, it becomes easier and easier just to skip meals.
Combat this, by eating together whenever you can be around. You should also encourage them to eat and socialize with others at the retirement home. The appetite in an elderly person will increase when eating with friends, which also keeps them more active and combats loneliness.
2. Ask the elderly for their food suggestions
A change in their taste buds is one of the most common reasons the elderly loses their appetite. That’s why it’s so important to ask your loved one what they want to eat, instead of just assuming that they eat the same things they always have.
Try sitting down together and creating a meal plan of the week, then go grocery shopping together to pick up the ingredients. Who knows, something in the grocery store might tempt their appetite as well.
3. Make the food appealing and appetizing
Remember, your elderly loved one’s taste buds may be changing, so foods are going to taste differently or may have very little taste at all. Try to prepare foods that are bright, colorful, and chockfull of vitamins and nutrients.
For example, instead of using regular table salt to season meals, try seasoning with natural herbs and spices that have a stronger taste and will appeal to your loved one and stimulate their senses. Herbs such as thyme, parsley, basil, mint, rosemary, and oregano have health benefits, smell great, and taste amazing as well.
4. Set a regular schedule for eating meals
As with anything else, getting into a regular schedule for mealtimes can help increase the appetite in an elderly person. Set a regular time to eat breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks. You can skip the three meals a day, in favor of six meals as long as they are at the same times. Many seniors are overwhelmed at the thought of eating a big meal, so smaller frequenter meals are better for them.
5. Make their dining experience special
Eating on paper plates in front of the TV in the den might be a fun thing to do from time to time but eating at the dining room table with linens and on china is special and makes dinner something to look forward too.
Do everything you can to make mealtime a special event that your elderly loved one can look forward to. Remember be there to eat with them as often as you can, because no one likes to eat alone.
6. Talk to their primary care physician
If all the above tips fail to increase or whet your loved one’s appetite, then it’s time to contact their primary care provider. He will do a complete checkup and perhaps prescribe an appetite stimulant. This is something for your loved one’s doctor to decide, however. You never want to give your loved one anything that their doctor doesn’t prescribe or approve first.
One final word of warning, it’s important not to ignore the changes in appetite with your loved one, even though it is a natural part of aging. Instead, take it very seriously and if the above tips don’t help then get them to a doctor as soon as possible for help. Do all you can to help whet your elderly loved one’s appetite and that includes taking them to the doctor if the need arises as well.