With age, seniors become more defensive about their actions. Worse, some may even refuse to eat most of the time. Honestly, this is a tricky situation to be in.
Seeing your elders refuse to eat is a difficult situation to be in. It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of old age. But you can do more for them. Let us help you!
Here is a list of things you can do when your senior loved loses their appetite.
Find the Reason
Don’t take your elder loved one’s loss of appetite lightly. Try to find out what’s causing it. Some common emotional and physical problems that contribute to poor appetite in elders include:
- Poor mobility,
- Medication side effects,
- Dental issues,
- Lack of physical movement, Digestion problems and,
- Low energy.
Make time to speak to them about how they’re feeling in general and what’s causing this decline in their willingness to eat. If you suspect it might be stemming from a medical issue, contact their doctor right away.
Make it Entertaining
For many people, food is not just about physical satiation. It’s more than that. It’s a multi-sensual experience and the presentation matters. So you can try to make mealtimes entertaining by putting on some lively music or their favorite movie. You can also jazz up the dining area with colorful plates and new cutlery.
Up the Nutrition
If your aging loved one is only eating a meal per day, make sure it’s super nutritious. One way to do that is to include good calories from lean protein and whole grains. Including a supplemental drink fortified with vitamins and minerals is also a good idea to get the calories in while keeping them hydrated.
Make sure you don’t give them large quantities to make up for the lost meals. This can cause digestive issues and is likely to do more harm than good. Focus on the nutrition and calories and not the portion size. For instance, a tbsp of olive oil has more calories than a large apple. Choose wisely.
Choose their Food Carefully
Poor dental health is one of the most common reasons seniors turn away from their food. Make sure their food isn’t tough to eat. Pick cooked veggies over raw salads, fish over steak, bread over cereal, etc. You can also add some homemade sauces and dressings to soften their foods.
Another thing to consider is giving them food that doesn’t need them to use cutlery. It’s possible that their carpal tunnel syndrome stretching might be making it difficult for them to use a knife and fork to cut the steak. You can look into adaptive utensils or simply give them food they can eat with their hands, such as scrambled eggs, fish sticks, or nuggets.
Get them Moving
We often underestimate the power of day-to-day movement in and around the house. If your old parent can’t exercise too much, just get them moving in the porch or the backyard. You can also take them on regular walks around the block. Doing this stimulates their appetite and gives them something to look forward to every day.
Make sure they also do various hand and finger exercises to stay flexible and avoid joint pains.
Don’t Argue About Food
In most cases, cognitive decline in elders also brings with it stubbornness about their eating habits. Try staying calm and speaking in a caring tone when you call them for meals. Try to give them just one food at a time, so as not to confuse them with too many choices.
Loss of appetite in elders, if left unaddressed, can lead to sudden weight loss and malnutrition. If you see your elder loved one going this route, you must jump in to improve the situation. We hope this guide helps you navigate this tough situation with ease.