You’ve just made a big batch of Mom’s special chili recipe. The house smells yummy, and you cannot wait to enjoy a bowl. However, while you are savoring not just the taste but the memories the meal invokes, Mom is simply stirring the food around in her own bowl. And it is not the first time. Recently, her appetite has been diminishing, and it’s starting to worry you.
Why Seniors Lose Their Appetite
It’s not uncommon for seniors to lose their appetite, for many reasons, including:
- Loneliness and having no one to share meals with
- Loss of taste or smell that makes food less appealing
- Feeling as though they’ve lost control over other aspects of life
- A routine that doesn’t include regular mealtimes
- Difficulty with preparing meals
- Depression and/or grief
- Problems with chewing, swallowing, or self-feeding
- A sedentary lifestyle
It is crucial to first speak with the person’s physician and dentist to rule out any health issues or medication side effects that may be causing the issue. Once it is established that there isn’t a medical reason behind the change in appetite, try these suggestions to help restore the person’s joy in eating and to maintain nutrition.
- Serve high-calorie foods in small amounts. In place of three large meals per day, try smaller portions more often. You can still make larger batches of favorite dishes, dividing them up into individual servings which can be frozen and reheated. Other foods to try that will supply important nutrients include cheese, peanut butter or other nut butters, finely chopped eggs or meat, avocado, yogurt, diced fruit, and whole milk.
- Incorporate softer options. During the summer months when fresh fruit is particularly delicious, try blending up some healthy smoothies. Summer can be a great time for milk shakes, ice cream, and frozen yogurt. Make it even more fun and festive by inviting family members over to make their own custom treats and enjoying them outdoors together.
- Create a schedule. Instead of waiting until the person says they’re hungry, set designated times each day and adhere to a schedule for meals. It might take some testing to figure out the best routine, but give it some time to work before fine-tuning. Make sure the person’s routine includes a sufficient amount of exercise and physical activity as well, which helps to improve appetite.
- Modify foods and utensils accordingly. If self-feeding is challenging, there are a number 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 such as sandwiches, fish sticks, string cheese, chicken tenders, etc.
Anthem Home Care is here to help older adults conquer barriers to eating healthy. With our professional home care services, we can prepare nutritious meals and snacks, supply inspiration to stay physically active, and provide friendly companionship during mealtime to make it more pleasant. Give us a call at 361-643-2323 or reach out to us online for more information about our services in Ingleside, Aransas Pass, Rockport, TX and surrounding communities, and how we can help someone you know.