A good diet is important at any age. What we eat affects our immune system, our energy levels, our moods, and our overall health. As we age, the changes in our bodies affect our appetite and ability to keep a good, healthy diet. Here are 6 reasons seniors lose their appetite and how we can help!
So many things cause tastebuds to change over time – nicotine use, alcohol, medications, illness, and aging. As a result, foods seniors once enjoyed no longer taste the same. No longer liking the foods they’re used to, they lose their appetite.
If your senior loved one has stopped eating foods they used to enjoy, begin introducing them to new foods. Pay attention to what they’re refusing so that you don’t have them trying something similar in flavor. Work with them to try new foods so that both of you can learn their new flavor balance between sweet, savory, sour, salty, and umami.
Less Physical Activity
As we age, we become less active. Seniors with limited mobility have fewer ways to exercise. As we age, our energy levels go down. When we use less energy, our bodies require less energy, leading to a loss of appetite and creating a cycle with even lower energy.
Help them find safe ways to engage in more physical activity. Short walks, brief low-impact exercises, and physical hobbies like gardening are all good ways to gently encourage more physical activity.
Dehydration is common with seniors, who often miss the signs as it comes on. This leads to further exhaustion, headaches, and yes, loss of appetite.
Help the seniors you care for stay hydrated. A small personal fridge in the living room and bedroom are good places to keep small bottles of water in easy reach. As you help them adjust their diet, encourage them to avoid coffee, alcohol, and sodas, all of which can lead to faster dehydration.
Limited mobility affects more than just a senior’s ability to engage in exercise. It can also limit their ability to do simple tasks – like preparing food.
For seniors with limited mobility, help them prepare and store simple, healthy meals and snacks that they can eat even when you’re not there to help them. Use single-serve easy-open bowls or small Ziploc bags for healthy snacks between meals.
Our moods also affect our ability to eat. Some things, like anxiety and depression, require special care to effectively manage. Loneliness also affects our mood and our appetite but is something much easier to alleviate.
Mealtime companionship is one of the best ways that caregivers can battle mealtime loneliness. Take time as a caregiver to sit with them and converse while they eat.
Dietary restrictions are another common cause of appetite loss. Seniors may feel intimidated by the prospect of having to closely manage their diet. They may feel frustrated over the need to change. Either leads to a loss of interest in eating as mealtime becomes an ordeal.
Help your loved one manage dietary restrictions by creating diets of their favorite foods that fit in those restrictions. Help them prepare and manage simple meals and snacks.
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