Uninterested senior lady with lack of appetite

You have just made a large batch of Mom’s special chili recipe. The house smells delicious, and you can’t wait to enjoy a helping. However, while you’re savoring not just the taste but the memories the meal invokes, Mom is simply stirring the food around in her own bowl. And it’s not the first time. Lately her interest in food has been declining, and it’s starting to worry you.

Why Does a Senior’s Appetite Decrease?

When a senior’s appetite decreases, it is often alarming for family caregivers, but it is actually quite common for a variety of reasons, including:

  • Dehydration
  • Loss of taste or smell that makes food less appealing
  • Depression and/or grief
  • A routine that doesn’t include regular mealtimes
  • Difficulty with preparing meals
  • Feeling as though they’ve lost control over other aspects of life
  • Loneliness and having no one to share meals with
  • A sedentary lifestyle
  • Problems with chewing, swallowing, or self-feeding

It is essential to first talk with the person’s physician and dentist to rule out any health problems or medication side effects that may be causing the issue. When it’s established that there isn’t a medical reason behind the change in appetite, try these tips to help improve the person’s enjoyment in eating.

Serve high-calorie foods in small amounts. Rather than three big meals per day, try smaller portions more often. You can still make larger batches of favorite dishes, splitting them up into individual portions that can be frozen and reheated. Other foods to try that will supply necessary nutrients include whole milk, finely chopped meat or eggs, yogurt, diced fruit, avocado, peanut butter or other nut butters.

Incorporate softer options. During the summer when fruit is especially appealing, try mixing up some healthy smoothies. Summer is also a great time for milkshakes, ice cream, and frozen yogurt. Make it more festive and fun by inviting your family over to make their own unique treats and enjoying them outdoors together.

Create a schedule. Rather than waiting until the person says they are hungry, designate times each day and stick to a routine for meals. It could take some trial and error to figure out the best schedule, but give the new routine time to work before fine-tuning. Make sure the person’s routine includes plenty of physical activity and exercise as well, which helps to boost appetite.

Adapt foods and utensils accordingly. If self-feeding is difficult, there are a lot of adaptive utensils to explore. You can also make mealtimes easier by serving food that is cut into small, bite-size portions, as well as finger foods such as sandwiches, fish sticks, string cheese, chicken tenders, etc.

Inspired Home Care is here to help older adults conquer obstacles to eating healthy. We can prepare nutritious meals and snacks, provide motivation to stay physically active, and offer friendly companionship during mealtime to make it more fun. Give us a call at 847-787-7572 or contact us online for more information on how our home care services can help someone you know in Chicago, Buffalo Grove, Wilmette and nearby communities.