It is not unusual to see a loss of appetite in a senior as he or she ages. However, the body still needs to be nourished, and your parent or loved one needs to be healthy and strong to ward off or recover from illness or other health problems.
Senior Solutions Management Group understands that this is a concern among caregivers, and we want to help. We are sharing information that we have gathered regarding the causes of a reduced appetite in seniors, the risks that this leads to, and how to stimulate a senior’s appetite.
What Causes a Reduced Appetite?
There are many potential reasons why your loved one has a reduced appetite. If you notice a sudden drop in appetite, talk to your parent or loved one’s doctor to make sure that there is not an underlying medical condition causing this.
Here are some of the common causes of a reduced appetite in seniors:
Medication Side Effects
Older adults often take various medications for health conditions. These medications come with side effects, one of which may be a lowered appetite.
Changes in the Body
As we age, the body goes through significant changes. For example, hormone levels in older adults begin to change. According to Nursing Older People, the levels of the hormone cholecystokinin are higher, which suppresses appetite more strongly in seniors. Additionally, the metabolic rate in seniors is lowered, resulting in fewer calories burned.
Changes in the digestive system also play a role in a reduced appetite. Nursing Older People states, “An estimated one-third of people over 65 years old have reduced saliva production, causing difficulties in eating that may impair appetite.”
Lack of Energy
Your senior loved one may simply lack the energy to cook meals for him or herself. One suggestion to combat this would be to prepare meals ahead of time or arrange for a meal deliver service to drop off cooked meals. This way, he or she does not have to cook an entire meal from start to finish.
One significant side effect of depression is the loss of appetite, and, unfortunately, seniors are susceptible to this ailment. Daily Caring states that one in ten seniors are affected by depression. Read a previous Senior Solutions blog, Depression in Assisted Living: 4 Ways to Help, for more information.
Lack of Exercise
Movement and exercise burn calories and boost appetite; however, as we age, we are not as physically active as we were in our younger years. Because of this, your parent or loved one may not be burning off enough calories for his or her body to feel the need to refuel and replenish nutrients.
Try taking your loved one for a walk. He or she may simply need to work up an appetite!
Loss of Taste
With age, taste buds may become less sensitive, preventing them from being able to detect and differentiate flavors. If this is the case for your loved one, foods may taste bland and unappealing to him or her.
How to Stimulate Appetite
Even though a loss of appetite is common and may not be caused by a serious medical condition, it is still essential for the body to receive proper nutrients. If it does not, illness and other complications may develop.
Furthermore, if your senior loved one loses a significant amount of weight, it is much more challenging to gain the weight back. Once you start to see the signs of significant weight loss, consult a doctor, and try these ways to stimulate your loved one’s appetite.
- Set a mealtime routine
- Arrange for your loved one to eat with friends or family members
- Drink meal shakes instead
- Let your loved one choose what he or she wants to eat
- Encourage exercise
- Prep meals ahead of time
Loss of appetite in older adults is not an immediate cause for concern; however, keep a watchful eye on your loved one’s eating habits and weight. If you need extra support, Senior Solutions Management Group is here to help.
Our Senior Solutions communities throughout Tennessee, Georgia, South Carolina, and Louisiana, offer all levels of care to ensure that your parent or loved one receives the amount of support and care that he or she needs.