One of the struggles that family caregivers and elderly care providers face is the loss of appetite that affects many older adults. It can make it difficult for seniors to eat enough to maintain a healthy weight and get enough nutrients. Although the situation is certainly a challenge, there are many ways to ensure seniors eat enough and also meet their nutritional requirements.
What Causes Appetite Loss?
Up to 30 percent of older adults are described as having “anorexia of aging.” This phrase was coined in 1988 and describes the decline in appetite that many seniors experience. More elderly women than men experience the problem. The older a person gets, the more likely they are to lose their appetite.
Some of the things that cause appetite loss are:
Physical Changes: Changes in the digestive system, hormones, and senses can cause a reduction in appetite. Certain condition and pain can contribute as well.
Psychosocial Factors: A person’s emotions and the environment they are in can affect their desire to eat. People who are depressed often eat less. Older adults who live alone, and therefore eat alone, are also more likely to experience the anorexia of aging.
Medication: There are hundreds of medications that can affect a person’s sense of smell or taste or that may cause nausea.
What Can Be Done to Improve Senior Nutrition?
The first step in determining what can be done to improve your aging family member’s nutritional situation is to find out what is causing the problem. Review the medications the person is taking and the side effects they may cause. If the side effects include things that could affect appetite, talk to the doctor about alternatives.
Other things that can help improve senior nutrition are:
Make Everything Count: When seniors don’t eat much, it’s important to make every bite count. Choose foods that are packed with nutrition, rather than empty calories. Even snacks should be foods that are high in nutritional value.
Offer Choices: When you are preparing a meal, let the older adult choose the foods they eat. Sometimes not getting to make these kinds of simple decisions can make seniors feel like they are losing control. Refusing to eat can be a way of taking back some of the control.
Use More Seasoning: If your family member has lost some of their sense of taste, it can help to give foods a stronger flavor. Use herbs and spices to boost flavor without adding excess sodium.
Allow Seconds: Take advantage of times when the older adult’s appetite is stronger. If they ask for more of something, let them have it. Or, if they ask for a snack, allow it, regardless of the time of day.
Another way to improve an elderly person’s appetite is to make the environment more pleasant. An elderly care provider can visit at meal times to help prepare food and to visit with the person while they eat. Having a companion to share mealtimes can help them to sit longer and eat more food. Elderly care providers can also assist the person to eat if needed.
If you or a family member are in need of hiring elder care in Aventura, FL, call the caring professionals at Star Multi Care today at (954) 870-4770.
Providing service in Boca Raton, West Palm Beach, Delray Beach, Boynton Beach, Weston, Southwest Ranches, Pembroke Pines, Cooper City, Lighthouse Point, and Wilton Manors.