Seniors often experience a substantial decrease or total loss of appetite as they continue to grow older.
Why Appetite Changes
Individual circumstances determine the changes that each senior experiences, so identifying contributors that are present in each seniors’ life can be helpful. The following may cause changes in eating patterns:
- Side-Effects of Medications
- Loss of Enthusiasm or Interest in Food (Because of Age Related Changes to Taste and Smell)
- Lack of Energy to Prepare Meals
- Depression or Other Mental Health Concerns
- Dental or Chewing Problems
- Other Health Conditions
Significant changes in appetite can also be symptoms of more widespread health concerns, such as:
- Thyroid Disorders
- Throat and Mouth Infections
- Some Cancers
- Salivary Gland Dysfunction
If you are worried about significant changes in appetite, meet with a doctor to discuss worries and potential causes.
Promoting and Stimulating Appetite
While it is normal for slight changes in appetite to occur with age, a significant decline in appetite can negatively impact seniors’ health. Failing to eat enough calories to fuel the body, or failing to consume enough nutrients can impact both physical and mental functioning. Healthy behaviours can help promote better eating habits for seniors.
- Plan: Some seniors don’t eat well because they are unmotivated cook alone. Making cooking and preparing food easier can help. Prepare food in advance, or have someone help at meal times.
- Navigate Food Aversions: Changing senses of smell and taste that come along with medications or age can make eating some foods unpleasant. Explore options that are equally nutritious but are more appealing.
- Make an Eating Schedule: Hunger signals are attached to habit, so planning eating times helps promote more routine stimulation of appetite, making seniors more inclined to eat more often and get in more nutrients and calories.
- Focus on Calorie and Nutrient Density: Try opting for foods that are high in nutrients and dense in calories so that seniors can get the benefits without eating large amounts.
- Eat Socially: Eating alone can be discouraging, and can cause seniors to avoid eating all together. Making meals a social activity with friends, family, or groups can motivate seniors to eat.
- Appetite Stimulants: If all else fails, prescription appetite stimulants are available. Have seniors meet with a healthcare professional in Montreal West Island to discuss whether these stimulants are a suitable option.