Loss of appetite in elderly is one of the common symptoms experienced by aging people. Loss of appetite is the reduced desire to eat. Physical causes of loss of appetite can be due to natural decline in their sense of smell and taste. These changes can cause food to taste bland, which may lead to loss of appetite. At the same time, many elderly people also suffer from physical ailments that make eating difficult. These include digestive diseases, uncontrolled diabetes, stroke, arthritis, cancer, Parkinson’s disease, and mental illnesses like depression and anxiety.
In such a situation, it is not easy for elderly people to get the required nutrition. If not properly treated, this may lead to a whole spate of related problems that are caused by it, including malnutrition, dehydration, weight loss and serious illnesses. In fact, loss of appetite can make you weak and might even result in death. Here are five handy tips to deal with loss of appetite in elderly people you can use to help ward off these problems:
Set Eating Schedule
By setting a regular meal schedule, it will help the body to build up hunger signals at certain times of the day. Therefore as a result of regularity, the eating pattern will also trigger to build up their appetite as well. If you are taking care of your elder relatives or parents and they are not used to eating based on a certain schedule, you can start introducing the pattern by serving a small portion of food or snack during the regular mealtime. Slowly add the portion from day to day.You can also set the schedule into 3 (breakfast, lunch, dinner) or 5 (additional 2 small snacks) times a day. As for elderly, it is better for them to eat smaller portions 5 times a day to avoid overwhelming feelings. This routine should be given at the specific time everyday until eventually helping to stimulate the appetite.
Encourage Social Meals
Eating alone may lead to loneliness, boredom, and depression which results in loss of appetite. Try to make their eating time enjoyable and engaging by inviting and sharing meals with friends or other family members. Having this kind of social interaction will bring a major difference and cause them to eat more as mood and appetite are both elevated. Furthermore, encourage them to eat at social events like Sunday lunch, or community center for atmosphere changes to spark those feelings of acceptance, belonging, love and connection.
Counter Medication Side Effects
Several side effects of medications can lead to loss of appetite. An appetizing meal such as meat may taste metallic due to some medications. If this happens, you can replace it with other types of protein like dairy products or beans. For beverage, try to make infused water by adding slices of assorted fruits for fresh sensation.
If the negative effect is dry mouth, it is suggested to chew sugarless gum, brush teeth frequently, or rinse your mouth just before meals to improve their taste’s sensitivity.
Prepare Nutrient-Rich Meals
For some seniors, consuming a full portion of meal may seem overwhelming. Instead, try to focus on providing them with high calorie and nutrients-rich meals to the portions they can consume, such as peanut butter, olive oil and avocados. These are nutrient-dense foods packed with healthy fats, which will help them to fulfill the adequate amount of calorie intakes per day.
Moreover, don’t forget to add high protein foods to their plate. It is one of the essential components in maintaining and repairing muscles strengths, bones, skin, blood, and other physical functions.
Another alternative to deal with poor appetite is to prepare nutritious drinks as meal replacement, such as Ensure Life Milk Powder. It is a great addition to your loved ones’ diet since it provides complete vitamins, minerals, and other essential components needed by the body.