It is common for children to say that they don’t have an appetite and would rather play than eat their vegetables, however it becomes a concern when the elderly doesn’t eat and claim that they don’t have an appetite.
According to Heather Schwarts who is a nutrition expert at the Stanford Hospital and Clinics, lack of appetite in seniors mostly thirst is a common occurrence in aging, however is it still something to be concerned about?
Let us first look into the reason why loss of appetite is normal. Though it is not a major concern, it is still something to look out for if they suddenly eat less and less. There are a lot of factors that contributed to a senior’s appetite.
- Changing taste buds
- Denture problems
- Depression or loneliness
- Lack of energy to cook for themselves
- Certain health conditions
- Side effects from their medicines
- A decrease in metabolism rate
- Less physical activity
- Dental problems and/or changes in their gastrointestinal tract
- Changes in their senses specifically smell, taste and hearing
It is mentioned that certain diseases can affect a senior’s appetite. Here are some of the diseases that are linked to that:
- Cancer of the head and neck
- Dysfunction of the salivary glands
- Thyroid disorders
- Infections in the mouth and throat
However, you should be aware that if they start making bad food decisions or they are not getting enough to eat which can affect their nutrition, it is time to intervene. Here are ways on how you can positively intervene without overwhelming your senior.
1. Increase nutrient density instead of food portions. This is because some senior would get intimidated by the amount of food that is being placed in front of them. Instead of giving them heaps, why not opt of small portion but packs a bigger amount nutrition-wise.
2. Create a regular eating schedule. Another reason why seniors have problems eating is because their body schedule is off as the body begins to send off irregular hunger and thirst signals. So when the pattern fluctuates, so do appetites. However, if you’re to do this, do so by slowly letting them adjust to the new schedule.
3. Be colorful in your presentation. Like children, seniors sometimes prefer to be visual and would be put off by a “monochromatic plate”. Not only this will be entertaining for them, it also serves as the perfect opportunity to introduce new food to them especially when it comes to their changing taste buds.
4. Try new flavors. Another take in making meal time exciting for seniors is to present different kinds of flavors for them. As their taste buds change, so do the taste of certain types of food, so it is something to consider presenting new flavors for them.
5. Introduce a more social take in meals. Seniors often live a lonely life and often eating alone is enough to make them not want to eat. Why not establish a more social meal time to encourage them to eat more and make them look forward to meal time?
6. Look out for medication side-effects. Sometimes, the reason why seniors have poor appetites is due to their medications. This is something that cannot be helped and so it is important that you find ways to go around it.