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A friendly Asian nurse taking care of a senior elderly man's nutrition at the hospital.

Loss of Appetite in the Elderly - Causes and Solutions

January 25, 2023 5:23 am
REAN Foundation

Because their bodies require more fuel to function optimally and keep their health in the best possible condition, aging adults need a nourishing and well-balanced diet. Nonetheless, as your loved one ages, they may notice gradual changes in their appetite, making it much harder to get the nutrition they need. So, the seniors as well as their caregivers must be aware of the causes of loss of appetite and the best ways to get rid of them!

Old age brings about inevitable changes in appetite, but poor nutrition has been linked to many adverse outcomes, including increased mortality rates among the elderly. Caregivers should inquire about the cause of the patient's poor appetite and study methods to remedy the situation.

Decreased Appetite and Its Causes

As we age, our bodies and habits change, and so does our appetite. However, as we get older, we need to compensate by taking supplements and ensuring our bodies get the required nourishment. Aging brings about physiological changes, including altered taste preferences; psychological factors, such as a decline in the desire and ability to prepare meals.

Abnormalities in Physiology

As we get older, our metabolism naturally slows down. We also become less active, which decreases our desire to eat. Research has linked poor appetite to more severe conditions like dental decay, stomach problems, cancer, thyroid problems, Parkinson's disease, and Alzheimer's disease. If a family member or close friend is exhibiting other concerning changes, seeking medical advice is essential. The doctor may recommend changing their way of life or giving them an appetite enhancer.

Medications and Its Side Effects

A dry mouth, a change in smell, and an altered taste are all possible side effects of certain medications. Caregivers can help with appetite by taking a few simple steps. The taste sensation can be improved by regular tooth brushing and sugar-free gum chewing.

You must have heard the adage, "we eat with our eyes." For those seniors whose palates are evolving, paying close attention to the presentation of their meals through colors can be a great way to improve their dining experience. A colorful, well-presented plate of nutritious fare is more likely to be eaten than a jumble of dull brown!

Trauma and Emotional Struggles

Elderly individuals' loss of appetite can also be attributed to emotional causes. Think about how lonely it would be to eat every meal alone after spending your whole life with a family. Seniors may find it challenging to develop a proper appetite in such a scenario. This lack of interest in food consumption can be a significant problem for people with anxiety and depression.

Alteration in Mental or Physical Ability

Your aging loved one's ability to eat properly may be affected by changes in their mental state and physical abilities. They may have trouble grocery shopping, preparing meals, or navigating the kitchen. They are more disoriented while cooking and end up avoiding it. Sometimes the thought of preparing a meal is just too much work or too much of a financial burden for seniors.

Significance of the Role of Caregivers

Caregivers can promote eating healthy by doing things like going grocery shopping, preparing meals together, and eating out. You can help your close one get the nutrition they need by following these suggestions.

Join Them During Their Meal

Sharing a meal is an effective way to get to know someone better and have a meaningful conversation with them. According to the research, mealtimes may extend to twice the normal time if an elderly person is dining with others. It increases if more people show up for lunch. So, don’t let them eat alone!

Also Read: How Good Is Your “Resting Heart Rate”?

Keep Them Hydrated

Maintaining proper hydration levels is vital for the health of the elderly. By encouraging your senior loved one to consume decent amounts of water, you can help boost their appetite. Other sources of hydration such as fruit juice, popsicles or soups will also be helpful.

Help Stock Up the Fridge

Enabling an elderly family member with grocery shopping, stocking a pantry, and planning and preparing meals can relieve stress and restore a sense of pleasure in eating. Many community groups also assist seniors on a limited budget.

Meals in Groups

Look into having meals together with others, both formally and informally. Meals for the elderly are available at many community centers, churches, and senior centers. You can help your elderly loved one by taking them to such groups and communities.

Watch for Appetite Swings

Alterations in appetite can result from physical challenges, such as sore gums or a dry mouth. If your senior has denture problems, they must see a dentist. To relieve dry mouth, they can chew sugar-free gum. In addition, umami flavors have also been shown to alleviate dry mouth and increase appetite in the elderly. As we age, our taste buds naturally become less sensitive, so boosting flavor could make food more appealing. Adding healthy herbs, seasonings and spices to food can also be helpful at this stage.

Optimally Healthy Diet

Foods rich in protein, fiber, and healthy carbs are essential for the elderly. Opting for nutrient-dense foods that the National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends is also crucial. Snacks like peanut butter and avocados are delicious and nutritious and will always be beneficial for your elderly friend.

Use the REAN HealthGuru Mobile App to Monitor Their Health

The REAN Foundation has come up with a cutting-edge health companion app that enables you to manage medical issues plaguing your elderly loved ones at home. The REAN HealthGuru Mobile App is designed to assist seniors in monitoring their exercise, diet, weight loss, and rest. Users of our user-friendly app can better manage their health and prevent illness by keeping track of what goes into their bodies. The app also helps users stick to their daily nutrition goals by requiring them to consume only the calories and nutrients their bodies need.

Parting Thoughts

Aging brings about a natural decline in appetite, but not getting enough nutrients can cause serious problems for your loved one’s body and mind. Keeping these essential points in mind can be very helpful if you want to help a loved one and prevent malnutrition-related complications. Being aware of the causes of loss of appetite, their solutions and using the REAN HealthGuru Mobile App becomes crucial at this juncture.

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REAN Foundation

REAN Foundation is committed to create technology solutions to help you take ownership, make smarter choices and be empowered to manage your health independently.

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