As we age, our body changes. Our metabolism rate reduces, we become less active and may experience changes to our senses. We may not even delight in our favorite foods anymore. Besides that, lifestyle changes such as wearing dentures, taking long-term medication, undergoing medical procedures, or even feeling socially isolated can cause changes to your appetite. Although the loss of appetite as you age and changes in food preference is expected, it can be a problem over time. Suppose there is an unintentional loss of weight, consistently not feeling hungry, or having no desire to eat. In that case, we start to worry when our loved ones are not getting the nutrients they need. Here are four simple ways to help your loved one eat again. Remember, it is a process. A little patience and creativity will go a long way. Be sure to rule out health conditions such as cancer, indigestion, kidney or liver diseases, dental issues, and side effects from medication.
Make Food Interesting
Changes to your loved one’s senses may make even their favorite food look unappealing. Try to ignite their interest in food by changing the way it looks. Start by adding brightly colored garnishing, using fun cutlery, or finding exciting ways to serve food. It will also be helpful to incorporate various methods when preparing food; instead of boiling, try grilling. Simple tweaks can lead to significant changes.
With a reduced metabolism rate and lesser activity in their lives, your loved one may not have the urge to drink as much water as before. As the body still requires water for many vital bodily functions, it is crucial to avoid dehydration in your loved one. Dehydration also causes food to be less tasty, and eating with a dry mouth is difficult and unenjoyable. To keep your loved one well hydrated, you may offer a range of beverages besides plain water. Try offering flavored or sparkling water, milk, or low sugared fruit juices. Although these are not substitutes, they will add a touch of enjoyment to drinking. One important thing to note is that coffee and tea are diuretic drinks and should be offered sparingly.
Make Mealtimes a Routine
Humans are creatures of habit. Try to schedule meal and snack times to encourage eating when it is time to do so. Their bodies will learn and adapt to the schedule, expecting food every day at the same time, so it is crucial to keep to the timetable as much as possible. Once it becomes a habit, their body will start to feel hungry or crave food at those times. Allow time as your loved one gets accustomed to the new schedule.
Eat with Others
Make mealtimes a pleasant experience and make it a fun social activity. Turn on the music, set the table, and eat in a nice comfortable place. When your loved one dines alone most of the time, they can feel socially isolated or depressed, reducing their appetite. Loneliness can affect nutrition. Make time to sit and eat together with them or have them eat with others. The Sensations Dining program at TerraBella Southern Pines provides sumptuous meals in the company of the living community here. Engaging conversations among family and friends helps your loved one build meaningful social connections.