When you’re a caretaker for an elderly loved one, you worry about a lot of things like falls and complications from medications. What you might not have thought about is what to do when they stop eating or drinking. This does happen, so it’s best to know what to look for and how to handle it before it becomes an issue.
Why Does an Elderly Person Stop Eating?
There can be several things at play when an elderly person stops eating. First off, it’s normal that an older adult will eat less than when they were younger, as their metabolism tends to slow down and their body may have fewer nutritional needs, but if they have all of a sudden started eating less, it may be something else.
Some common reasons the elderly doesn’t want to eat is that their ability to smell and taste has decreased. A person’s sense of smell is closely related to one’s ability to taste food. Not being able to smell food also decreases the person’s interest in eating.
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Poor vision due to cataracts or other eye-related issues goes hand-in-hand with not being able to smell food. When they can’t see what they are eating, they are less likely to be interested in eating it.
The flip side of this is that as you age, your digestion slows down. This can lead to constipation, which gives a person a feeling of fullness.
In addition, elderly not eating can be due to medications they are taking or even oral health issues. Some older adults have difficulty chewing due to issues with their dentures or teeth and gums.
How to Get an Elderly Person to Eat
There are ways you can help increase the amount of food your loved one is eating. First off, provide meals and snacks at the same time each day. This will help train their bodies to eat at specific times even if they aren’t overly hungry.
Provide smaller portions of food. In doing so, you’ll find that they are more willing to eat than when a large plate of food is set in front of them. Also, if your loved one is having trouble using utensils, offer up more finger food. This can include cheese, raw veggies, and even chicken nuggets. Healthy snack food can help as well when elderly stop eating.
Finally, when it comes to what to do when the elderly won’t eat, be sure to have plenty of their favorites on hand as well as soft foods such as soups, smoothies, and even healthy milkshakes.
What Happens When an Elderly Person Stops Eating and Drinking?
When an elderly person stops eating and drinking, in time, they will die just like anyone else. When it comes to elderly stop eating and drinking life expectancy, it is often talked about as a range instead of a specific number of days. People can go longer without eating than they can without drinking, but for someone who is bedridden, they will typically die within a few days to two weeks if they stop eating or drinking completely.
If your loved one isn’t eating as much as they once were, the first step is to have a doctor check them over to make sure there isn’t a serious illness behind their lack of appetite. If there isn’t, try some of these tips to help them get the nutrition they need to stay healthy and happy.