How to Help an Elderly Individual With No Appetite
If you are caring for a senior who is reluctant to eat as much as they should—nothing can be more frustrating. Obviously, every senior needs to eat square, healthy balanced meals throughout the day, but there are many older adults who lose their appetite as they age. Living a sedentary lifestyle, certain medications and dementia can all cause seniors to lose their appetite. But as their caregiver—what can you do when a senior just doesn’t want to eat?
Here are a few tips that can help.
- Create a Routine- Having a regular meal and snack schedule can help seniors get in the habit of eating, even if they aren’t necessarily hungry or craving food. Many seniors won’t feel their hunger naturally, as this sensation tends to decline as they age—so serving food at the same time every day can help encourage seniors to eat, even when they don’t feel they need to.
- Serve More Nutrient Dense Foods- There are many seniors who don’t like to eat a lot in terms of quantity, but it doesn’t mean that you can’t make up for it with quality, nutrient-rich foods. Avocados, peanut butters, almonds and soft cheeses are all great, dense foods that can help give seniors the nutrients and calories that they need without having to eat a great deal of volume.
- Make Smoothies- Smoothies are a great way to encourage seniors (or anyone) to get all of the nutrients that they need without having to eat a great deal in terms of volume. Smoothies can be sweet and delicious and filled with fruits and veggies. To add more calories to these smoothies consider adding peanut butter or full-fat milk.
- Remove Utensils From the Situation- There are many seniors who struggle with using utensils. Whether cognitive issues, trembling, arthritis or anything in between is to blame, issues like this can make it frustrating for seniors to use utensils. This may be enough to frustrate seniors so much that they decide not to eat. Replace foods that require utensils with finger foods like chicken nuggets, fish sticks, fruit or raw veggies.
- Keep Snacks on Hand- If seniors aren’t ready to sit down and eat big meals during the day, consider having plenty of prepared, easy-to-eat snacks around during the day. These snacks can include fruit, cheese and crackers, yogurt or string cheese.
Remember, if seniors aren’t eating for an extended period of time, it is important to take them to visit their doctor. A medical professional may be able to diagnose a more serious underlying issue. Dental problems, medication side effects and serious health conditions can all lead to a sudden and dangerous loss of appetite. Plus, some seniors who refuse to eat long enough can develop serious health complications and malnourishment as a result of this action.
Visiting a doctor when you feel concern is always a smart move.
- Lori Thomas has decades of experience as a caregiver. Her writing for SeniorAdvice.com is informed by years of research as well as hands-on family experience caring for her now late mother, who had chronic health issues for most of her life. Lori is an integral part of the SeniorAdvice.com management team, acting as Vice President of Marketing and Chief Editor.
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