Getting someone to eat when they do not want to can be very challenging, but it’s important to keep trying. Losing their appetite and not eating, as a result, can deprive seniors of important nutrients. However, there are some ways to help increase appetite in the elderly. In this post, we will review reasons for loss of appetite in the elderly, natural appetite stimulants for the elderly, and methods on how to stimulate appetite in the elderly.
Reasons for Loss of Appetite in the Elderly
Before we find an appetite stimulant for the elderly, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why an older adult could lose their appetite. These include:
Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease
Mouth and throat infections
Salivary gland problems
Medication side effects, such as dry mouth or metallic taste
Lack of exercise
Lack of a daily routine when it comes to meals
Loss of taste as a result of aging
Problems with chewing, swallowing, or eating independently
Sensitivity to smells of certain foods, which can cause nausea
Overall feelings of losing control of one’s life
Loneliness and depression
Overall unpleasant feelings around mealtimes
In the next two sections, we will go over how to increase appetite in the elderly.
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Foods for the Elderly with No Appetite
Treatment for loss of appetite in the elderly can be as simple as finding foods to satisfy it. Some foods include:
Finger foods (i.e. chicken nuggets, fish sticks, steamed or raw vegetables, meatballs)
Cheese sticks or string cheese
Calcium-rich or full-fat yogurt
Lean proteins like beans, peas and lentils
Finely chopped or ground meat
Whole milk or chocolate milk
Crackers with peanut butter or cheese
Healthy milkshakes or smoothies
Full-fat cottage cheese
Fiber-fortified cereal and bread
Vitamin D-rich fish and eggs
Next, let’s review how to increase appetite in the elderly naturally.
Tricks to Stimulate Appetite in the Elderly
When it comes to finding an appetite stimulant for the elderly, natural methods can come in handy. Below are some tips to help stimulate appetite in older adults:
Figure out the underlying issue. If the loss of appetite is caused by an illness, infection, or medication, it is paramount to deal with this problem first. Speak to your doctor to determine the best method.
Form a routine. Eating around the same time each day can train the body to recognize when it's time for meals.
Accommodate your eating style. If you prefer to eat small snacks throughout the day, don’t pressure yourself to start eating three large meals every day. Be sure to keep nutritious meals that fit your lifestyle.
Make your food more digestible. Fennel, ginger, rosemary, or turmeric are known for helping to cure loss of appetite. Furthermore, avoiding foods with strong odors is also recommended.
Serve water between meals/limit fluids during meals. Liquids can help moisten foods so seniors can swallow safely, plus prevent dehydration — a natural appetite suppressant. However, beverages can also fill seniors up too quickly, so for some, it may be best to drink after meals.
Experiment with different food temperatures. Sometimes, people change their preferences for hot meals vs. cold meals.
Provide independence. Caregivers being too involved in their loved one’s eating habits can sometimes have negative effects. Provide freedom of choice when it comes to deciding how and when they want to eat.