As your loved ones age, it’s not unusual for their appetite to gradually decrease. This can be attributed to their metabolism slowing down and reduced physical activity. Additionally, the older someone gets, the less their taste buds can detect flavors—making regular food taste bland and unappetizing.
But it is still important to ensure seniors are getting the nutrition they need to live a healthy life. So, how do you convince your aging loved ones to eat more when they don’t have an appetite?
Rule Out Serious Health Conditions
Several serious illnesses, including Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, cancer, thyroid disorders, dental disorders, salivary gland problems, depression, and more, can change an individual’s taste and appetite. So, if you notice a sudden drop in a senior’s appetite, your first step of action should be to consult with their doctor and eliminate major physical and mental health issues.
Address Medication Side Effects
Some medications can cause dry mouth or leave behind a metallic taste that makes it difficult for seniors to enjoy their meals. A simple suggestion to try chewing sugarless gum, brushing their teeth, or using an oral rinse before mealtimes may help reduce dryness and improve their sense of taste.
In a few cases, seniors may no longer like the taste of meat. One solution to this would be to find them an alternative protein source like dairy or beans. They can also try using plastic knives and forks if silverware interferes with their sense of taste.
Make Mealtimes More Peaceful and Enjoyable
If mealtimes are filled with disagreements and arguments, seniors are more likely to associate food with unpleasant memories and avoid eating. Whether it is sharing their favorite food with them or having pleasant conversations with them, take the necessary steps to make your older family members or friends feel more loved and comfortable. You can also set the table nicely, light some candles, and put on their favorite music to improve the mood.
For some, it can also be lonely and depressing to eat alone. So, try to have their friends and extended family members over for meals as often as possible.
Include Them in Meal Planning
Seniors often find it challenging to cope with the feeling that they’ve lost their independence. So, refusing to eat can make them feel like they’ve regained some control over their lives.
To address this situation, involve older adults in meal planning and let them choose between the different foods they can eat.
Keep Seniors Hydrated
Dehydration can lead to loss of appetite. Older adults are at an increased risk of dehydration because of medications and age-related conditions. So, encourage the seniors in your life to drink more water in between meals.
If they don’t like the taste of water, add mint or sliced fruit to enhance the flavor. You can also try the flavored water available at your local grocer’s or drugstore.
As taste buds become less sensitive with age, you can consider adding more seasoning to their meals. Additionally, the temperature of the food can also influence their appetite. So, keep experimenting until you find the right amount of seasoning and the perfect temperature so you can serve food your elderly loved ones will anticipate and enjoy.
It may be disheartening to see your loved ones slowly lose their appetite—but don’t give up. Be patient and keep trying until you find a way to encourage your senior family members or friends to eat more.
If you’re struggling to set up a meal schedule and get seniors to eat regularly, contact Oasis Senior Advisors. Their team has the knowledge and expertise to help you and your family—at no cost. Get in touch by calling 475.619.4123 or 914.356.1901 or fill out their online form. You can also check out The Downsized Gourmet for nutritious, budget-friendly, and easy-to-make recipes you and your loved ones can enjoy!