Reasons why seniors lose their appetite and what’s the solution to it

Health, according to the World Health Organization, is “a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease and infirmity”.[1] A variety of definitions have been used for different purposes over time. Health can be promoted by encouraging healthful activities, such as regular physical exercise and adequate sleep,[2] and by reducing or avoiding unhealthful activities or situations, such as smoking or excessive stress. Some factors affecting health are due to individual choices, such as whether to engage in a high-risk behavior, while others are due to structural causes, such as whether the society is arranged in a way that makes it easier or harder for people to get necessary healthcare services. Still other factors are beyond both individual and group choices, such as genetic disorders.

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Aging brings many psychological and lifestyle changes, which can even lead to loss of appetite in the elderly. So, follow these tips to stimulate the appetite.

Nutrition plays a very crucial role in our life. Sometimes we assume it’s more important for adults and children, but guess what? The elderly need proper nutrition and a healthy diet to keep going as well. In fact, lack of nutrition can lead to diseases at this stage of life. If your parents are getting old, you may be worried about how to take care of them. It becomes even more important to find out when your aging parents suffer a loss of appetite, and getting them to eat becomes an ongoing battle.

Well, loss of appetite can be widely seen in the elderly. Some believe that it is a normal part of aging, but it’s not! When a person limits food choices and consumes less, it becomes harder to consume the variety of nutrients that are needed for optimal health. And this can be an early warning sign of a greater health problem. To correct the situation, you need to find out the cause behind it. 

loss of appetite in elderly
Caregivers need to pay attention to health. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

So to understand why elderly people lose their appetite, HealthShots spoke to Dr Jinal Patel, Dietitian, Apollo Spectra Hospital, Mumbai. 

Here are 6 reasons why seniors face a loss of appetite, according to Dr Patel:

1. Skipping exercising

Exercising on a regular basis can boost metabolism. But, if one tends to regularly skip it, they may have a poor appetite. 

2. Getting dehydrated

Are you often dehydrated? Then, it can also lead to poor appetite.

3. A sedentary lifestyle

If you fail to follow a structured routine, it will be tough for you to have a good appetite. Thus, you will have to design a proper routine and fix meal timings with the help of your family members.

4. Loss of taste

This happens due to aging. When one will not be able to detect flavours and there will be poor appetite. One may not feel like eating anything as the food may taste bland.

5. Gastrointestinal problems

Gastrointestinal changes can make eating uncomfortable and slow down digestion which can make seniors feel full for longer periods and reduce their appetite. 

loss of appetite in elderly
Ageing parents may face stomach issues. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

6. Dental issues

Difficulty in chewing, swallowing, or eating due to dental issues seniors may lose their appetite.

So how can you stimulate appetite in the elderly?

Dr Patel suggests some ways which can help increase the appetite in the elderly: 

1. Create a schedule

The family members need to keep a watch on the eating habits of an elderly member. Set breakfast, lunch, and dinner timings and follow the same timings.

2. Eat with other family members

It will be a good idea to sit with the senior members of the family, talk to them, share memories and things with them. Make sure that you complete the meal and don’t avoid eating food.

loss of appetite in elderly
Eat together, stay together. Image Courtesy: Shutterstock

3. Try to eat finger foods

Many seniors will avoid eating food in front of family members owing to shaky hands or inability to hold food. But having a sandwich or fruit can help you to get your appetite back.

4. Make the meal appealing

Add their favourite colours to the food so that it can be pleasing for them. Try to make seniors choose what they want to eat. They will feel empowered and better, too.

Just sit with them, enjoy the meal together, spend some time, and follow these tips and all will be fine. 

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