It is difficult to increase an older adult’s appetite due to metabolism slowing down. We become less physically fit, requiring fewer calories. About 20% of older adults who live alone have poor nutritional health. The changes in their sense of smell and taste alter the way they experience food which could lead to appetite loss. This loss of appetite could be a sign of health issues that could relate to their dental or gastro health. Some may even forget to take their meals, which is common in dementia patients, due to their confused state and mood swings. Over time, eating less will lead to significant weight loss and even malnutrition causing health complications. Thus, it is important to find ways to increase their appetite!
Consult a Doctor
Consulting a doctor helps identify the potential health risks associated with appetite loss. Doctors can review the medications prescribed as some side effects could lead to the loss of appetite. They will then find other alternatives, like adjusting the dosages, to help improve their appetite. Additionally, doctors can run tests and screenings to find out the causes to treat the problem.
Set Regular Mealtimes
Having meals at the same time every day helps train the body to be hungry at these periods. It makes the elderly more willing and ready to eat. Studies have shown that having regular meals can improve health. Sometimes, they may not be able to sense hunger so family members must create a dependable schedule for them to have their meals instead of relying on them to ask for food.
Focus on Portion Size
Ensure that the portion size is sufficient for your loved ones. It can be intimidating to see a large meal especially when they are already experiencing appetite loss. Instead of focusing on serving more food at greater portions to increase their food intake, serve food at a smaller portion but are nutritionally dense. These foods can include fruits, vegetables, eggs, and lean meats. Incorporate more of these types of foods on their plates but in smaller portions, this will encourage them to eat.
Make Food Easier to Eat
It is important to take note of what kinds of food your loved ones enjoy and purposefully include them when you cook. It encourages them to eat as well as increases the level of enjoyment as they eat. Sometimes, they could have difficulty in chewing, it will be helpful to cut smaller pieces of meat, vegetables, and fruits for them. It can also improve their dining experience.
Make Mealtimes Enjoyable
Sharing food and eating with family is a great time for bonding. While doing so, it encourages the elderly to eat more and promotes healthier eating habits! Studies have shown that 85% of older adults find it much more enjoyable to share meals with family and friends. Another way to encourage them is through establishing an enjoyable environment to eat in like more comfortable amenities in their living community that enhances the experience of enjoying food.