Aging comes with lifestyle and physiological changes, some of which may lead to loss of appetite. As we age, the gradual decline in appetite is considered normal since we generally become less active, have a low metabolism, and have less sensitive taste buds. However, losing appetite over an extended period in seniors can be caused by many things, and that’s why it needs to be addressed immediately.
Luckily, several treatment options for loss of appetite can be tried in the comfort of your home. When looking for the “right” treatment for loss of appetite in the elderly, it’s important to find the solution that works for you. Keep reading to find out what causes the loss of appetite, plus the top loss of appetite treatments.
Why Most Seniors Lose Appetite
They are several reasons why the elderly experience dwindling appetites as they age. They include:
Reduced Physical Activity and Lower Metabolic Rate
Due to old age, seniors boast declined energy levels, move less, and rarely engage in physical activities. This generally leads to a lower metabolic rate as the elderly no longer require more calories than they did during their younger years.
Seniors may also get anorexia because of continuously being sad, anxious, depressed, and grieving. Once we hit 60 years, we tend to lose interest in things that make us happy. Conversely, we tend to suffer from age-related problems that lead to more sadness and boredom. This long-term sadness makes the elderly not find fun in food and even refuse to eat a all.
Seniors are highly susceptible to various illnesses, some of which can have severe complications. These illnesses can cause seniors undue stress and lead to loss of appetite. Some health conditions that can cause a significant decline in a senior’s appetite include dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, thyroid disorders, hepatitis or chronic liver disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and some cancers.
Loss of Taste and Smell
Aging is always attributed to loss of taste and smell. Senior citizens unable to detect tantalizing flavors and alluring food scents can have a poor appetite. When you can’t discern the smell and taste of food, you won’t feel the urge to eat as everything will taste bland.
Another common problem when we age is dental issues, which often lead to eating, chewing, or swallowing difficulties. When seniors can’t chew the food easily, they lose their appetite as eating is no longer as fun as it used to be.
Side effects from Continuous Medication
Since senior citizens usually grapple with various age-related illnesses and tend to be under heavy medications. Sometimes these medications can alter their perception of food or even affect their overall appetite.
Aging makes senior citizens lose their sense of routine, and age-related ailments such as dementia can make them forget to cook and eat on time. The lack of a structured feeding routine makes it difficult for seniors to build an appetite.
Solutions to Loss of Appetite in the Elderly
Loss of appetite can severely affect seniors’ well-being and affect their health. It can lead to weight loss, malnutrition, compromised immunity, and general weakness. Fortunately, there are some effective ways that caregivers and family members can use to increase appetite in the elderly. They include:
Establish a Regular Eating Routine
The human body thrives on consistency, especially regarding thirst and hunger. So, if you’re trying to stimulate your elder citizen to eat, you should create a strict breakfast, lunch, and dinner schedule.
And since it can be challenging to sway your senior citizen to follow a mealtime routine, you can start gradually by introducing tantalizing snacks or beverages during meal times. This will help instill a natural clock that will stimulate hunger during specific times of the day.
Make Meals Times a Social Experience
Eating together as a family, community, or over video chat can greatly improve how seniors eat. As mentioned earlier, boredom, sadness, anxiety, and depression are some of the causes of loss of appetite in seniors. Joining senior citizens during meals or asking them to eat with friends as they share stories and memories can improve their appetite.
Make Meals Appetizing and Alluring by Using Spices and Herbs
While some seniors fail to eat because they can’t smell or taste the food you serve, you can help stimulate their taste buds by adding exciting herbs and spices. Conversely, try infusing the senior’s plate with attractive and revamped meals. You can opt for new seasonings or go for more decorative dishes.
However, be careful not to add too many spices, herbs, or food colors, as they might lead to digestive problems. Remember to go easy on the salt and choose different food combos until you find what they love.
Use Appetite Stimulants
You can always consider prescription appetite stimulants if all the other methods don’t yield results. However, ensure that you consult your medical practitioner about the pros and cons of appetite stimulants before using them.
Your physician will tell you whether the prescriptions will react negatively with other medications your senior citizen is taking. However, if your doctor finds this the most appropriate option for stimulating an appetite in your senior citizen, you should not have any worries.
Are you concerned that your senior loved one is continuously losing appetite? This article has provided a comprehensive outline of the causes and solutions. Your senior citizen’s appetite may dwindle because of stress/ depression, reduced physical activity, health issues, loss of taste and smell, dental issues, and lack of a structured meal routine.
However, as the piece explains, caregivers and family members can improve seniors’ appetite and ensure they receive the much-deserved nutrients. If your senior citizen is grappling with the loss of appetite, the tips discussed in this write-up will help your seniors work up an appetite. However, consult your doctor when using any technique to ensure that you don’t create more problems for your elderly loved one.