Solutions for Loss of Appetite in Seniors
Changes that generally take place within our bodies as we age can impact our lives in diverse and profound ways. Eating behaviours and appetite patterns are among the facets of life that are often significantly affected with age. Many seniors and those who care for them might find themselves noticing a substantial decrease or total loss of appetite has taken place.
A healthy diet filled with important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients is a high priority at any age to promote optimal health, but this is especially pertinent for seniors whose state of health is in a more vulnerable position. Seniors should be aware of potential contributors to changes in appetite, and should be attentive to any shifts that may indicate more widespread health issues.
By remaining observant and aware of changes taking place in their habits and behaviours, seniors can be proactive about meeting with healthcare professionals in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge in a timely manner to discuss issues with appetite as they come to light.
Reasons for Changes in Appetite
Individual circumstances determine how each senior will experience the varying changes that growing older creates, so it can be helpful to identify and make note of the specific contributors present in each case. Some elements that might lead to changes in eating patterns for seniors include:
- Medication side effects
- Loss of enthusiasm or interest in food (taste and smell often changes with age)
- Lack of energy to prepare meals
- Depression or other mental health concerns
- Dental or chewing problems
- Other existing health conditions
Significant changes in appetite can also be symptoms of more widespread health concerns, such as:
- Thyroid disorders
- Throat and mouth infections
- Some types of cancer
- Salivary gland dysfunction
- Alzheimer’s and dementia
If you are worried or uneasy about significant changes in appetite, meet with a doctor or healthcare professional to discuss worries and potential causes.
Promoting and Stimulating Appetite
While it is absolutely normal for some slight changes in appetite to take place as people grow older, a significant decline in appetite or substantial difference in eating habits can have a detrimental impact on seniors’ health. Failing to meet required calorie and nutrient intake can have wide-reaching physical and mental effects. Healthy behaviours and lifestyle choices can be integrated into seniors’ lives to help promote better and healthier eating habits for seniors.
- Plan: Some seniors don’t maintain a healthy diet because they are unmotivated to prepare food for themselves alone. Arrangements to make cooking and preparing food simpler can be a big help. Prepare food in advance, or arrange for someone to be there to offer help at meal times.
- Navigate Food Aversions: Fluctuations in senses of smell and taste that come along with medications or age can make eating some foods unpleasant. Try exploring diverse options that are equally nutritious but are more appealing to the palate.
- Scheduled Meals: Hunger signals are attached to habit in significant ways, so consistently scheduling meals and snacks can promote a more routine stimulation of appetite signals, making seniors more inclined to eat more often and more regularly
- Focus on Calorie and Nutrient Density: Instead of trying to motivate seniors to consume large quantities of food to get sufficient nutrients, try opting for foods that are high in nutrients and dense in calories. This helps provide nutritional benefits without the need for consuming large portions.
- Eat Socially: It is discouraging for many seniors to have to eat meals alone, and this can sometimes lead them to avoid eating altogether. Making meals a social activity by engaging friends, family, or social groups can lead to more enjoyable eating.
- Appetite Stimulants: If all else fails, and consuming enough food and nutrients on a regular basis remains difficult, prescription appetite stimulants are available for additional assistance. Have seniors meet with a healthcare professional in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge to discuss whether these stimulants are a suitable option.
Growing older can result in a variety of changes to eating and appetite. Lower calorie requirements, reduced physical activity, gastrointestinal changes, affected sense of smell and taste, and changes in food preferences are prime examples.
These changes are not always signs of ill-health unless the impacts become so significant that seniors are prevented from getting the nutrients they need to stay healthy. More severe differences can be damaging to the overall physical and mental health of seniors in numerous ways. Building a well-informed understanding concerning changes in diet and appetite, and keeping mindful of the difficulties that may come as a result, is critical.
Determining whether these changes are just typical age-related adjustments, or whether they are indicative of more widespread issues is the first step to be addressed. For growing concerns, resources and support are available in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge to help seniors and those who care for them get on the right track to nutritional health.