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6 Causes of Decreased Appetite in Older Adults

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Failing to follow a healthy diet in the senior years could increase the risk of cardiovascular problems, balance issues, weaker immune systems, and more. Therefore, family caregivers need to find out why their senior loved ones aren’t eating and search for positive ways to promote nutritious foods and beverages based on their loved one’s preferences and health. Below are some of the top reasons seniors lose their appetite and what you can do to manage each issue.

1. Medication Side Effects

Many older adults take medications, some of which can have a nasty aftertaste. This side effect may cause your loved one to lose his or her appetite even when you prepare his or her favorite dishes. If your parent’s prescriptions are preventing him or her from eating, speak with his or her primary care physician about alternative medicines. You could also search for healthy seasonings that combat the bitter aftertaste of certain medications.

A trained caregiver can provide expertise and additional support to encourage your loved one to eat well. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of senior care. Boynton Beach families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.

2. Too Much Food

Portion control is essential for many seniors, especially those living with neurological disorders such as dementia. Seeing a lot of food piled on a plate can be intimidating and cause seniors to lose their appetite. To handle this issue, serve smaller amounts of food throughout the day. Reducing the portion sizes doesn’t prevent your loved one from eating the nutrients his or her body needs. It merely spreads the meals out into manageable portions.

3. Chewing and Swallowing Problems

Mouth muscles can weaken due to aging or because of health problems such as stroke and Parkinson’s disease. These issues could prevent your loved one from being able to chew and swallow, leading to diminished appetite. Find healthy soft foods to serve your parent or consider puréeing his or her meals.

Seniors who aren’t able to eat enough to get proper nutrition may need a higher level of care. If your senior loved one needs around-the-clock assistance at home, the Boynton Beach, FL, live-in care professionals at Home Care Assistance are here to help. Our proprietary Balanced Care Method was designed to promote longevity by encouraging seniors to focus on healthy eating, regular exercise, mental engagement, and other important lifestyle factors.

4. Stress

When older adults are stressed, their minds often don’t function normally, and they may stop eating. If their stress isn’t controlled, it’s common for seniors to experience low blood pressure, nutritional imbalances, and other health problems. Find out what’s causing the anxiety and look for positive management strategies. For instance, engaging in purposeful hobbies could enhance your loved one’s mood, boost his or her metabolism, and lead to a stronger appetite.

5. Weak Hand Muscles

Cooking may be difficult for your loved one due to reduced dexterity or impaired vision, causing him or her to skip meals. Your parent might have difficulty lifting forks, spoons, and other eating utensils, increasing the risk of malnutrition. Monitor your loved one’s comfort level at mealtimes. If he or she has poor dexterity, purchase lightweight cooking and eating utensils or try to help out more during meals.

6. Change in Preferences

The food preferences people have as children often change when they become teenagers and young adults. These changes can also occur in the senior years. Encourage your loved one to try both new foods and old dishes to determine which items he or she likes and dislikes. In many cases, switching up the foods you serve your loved one could prevent a loss of appetite and boost his or her quality of life.

Helping aging adults get proper nutrition when they don’t want to eat can be exhausting for family caregivers. If you’re the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality senior home care, Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age. Call Home Care Assistance at (561) 740-6256 to learn more about our flexible and customizable senior care plans.