Following the indulgence of the holiday season, many people decide to cut back on their consumption of calories. But when senior loved ones refuse to eat altogether or they start making unhealthy or unbalanced dietary choices, it is important to look for the reason associated with the loss of appetite in elderly loved ones and to know how to help them get on track with healthier eating.
What Causes Changes in an Older Adult’s Eating Habits?
There are several key reasons that may cause unhealthy dietary choices or a loss of appetite in the elderly – and strategies you can employ to help overcome them:
- Low vision. If the person is unable to see clearly, they might perceive foods differently and lose interest in eating. Vision problems may also make it difficult and even dangerous to prepare meals or go out to pick up groceries. Offer to help with shopping and meal prep (or let us help!), and serve foods that are brightly colored and contrasted to the colors of serving dishes, place mats, the tablecloth, etc. so they are more easily seen.
- Loneliness. This is a common problem among older adults and can make mealtime less enjoyable. Share meals whenever possible with a lonely senior loved one, invite friends and neighbors to join them, or contact Golden Harmony for a caregiving companion to assist.
- Issues with dental health. Speak with the dentist to determine if dentures need to be refitted or if there are any other dental concerns that need to be addressed. You may want to provide foods which are softer and/or cut them into smaller pieces. Lentils, ground meat, and beans, for instance, are easier to chew than a pork chop or steak.
- Side effects from medications. Schedule an appointment with the physician for a comprehensive examination of all meds being taken, and find out if one or more may be leading to a loss of appetite or troubling gastrointestinal effects. See if the medication can be changed to a more tolerable alternative or if the amount can be altered.
- Loss of smell or taste. Aging in general oftentimes leads to a dulling of these senses, which could affect the pleasure of eating. Try tinkering with more flavorful and aromatic spices and herbs when preparing meals, such as garlic, thyme, and ginger.
Golden Harmony is here for senior loved ones struggling to maintain a balanced and healthy diet, for whatever reason. We can partner with you to ensure all the bases are covered in providing seniors with every opportunity to once again enjoy meals and establish improved eating habits. Contact us at 919-426-7522 to discover more about how our trusted Apex senior in home care can help. For a full list of all of the communities where we provide care, please visit our Communities Served page.