It is not abnormal for a person's appetite to decrease as they age. There are numerous factors that can cause an elderly individual to eat less, many of which should be expected as the years advance. However, when an older person begins to reduce their food consumption to the point where it causes negative health effects, it is time for caregivers and loved ones to intervene. Below are a few ideas that can help an elderly person increase their appetite:
Change food choices
Any person can find themselves in a "rut" when it comes to eating the same things, but elderly people are even more susceptible to falling into this trap. The steady, day-to-day routine in which older individuals engage can lead to food boredom, and this will cause them to eat less of foods they might ordinarily enjoy but now find less palatable due to over-familiarity.
To remedy this problem, caregivers should provide alternative food choices for elderly individuals. Don't be surprised if you encounter reluctance upon the part of an individual to add new food items to their diet; that is a normal response. However, gentle encouragement to try something slightly different can be enough in many circumstances. Even a subtle change, such as trying a different brand of the same product type, will spur an increase in appetite. By taking a slow, progressive approach, you can greatly expand the diet choices of an older person without causing them discomfort and frustration.
Introduce richer foods
In some situations, the primary problem with an older person's diet is a decrease in food quantity. The desire to eat as much is simply no longer there for some elderly individuals. In these circumstances, the best thing you can do as a caregiver is increase the nutrient density of foods. This can be accomplished by adding caloric value in the form of extra butters, oils, nuts, or even by using fortified foods. In addition, adjusting portion sizes to reduce less-beneficial foods and increase higher calorie foods can also help give your senior's meals an added boost.
However, it is important to avoid causing digestive upset by increasing the richness of foods. For example, adding butter and other foods containing oils can cause a variety of stomach and intestinal problems, especially if your elderly person has not been used to such foods. Take time to ease into increasing the richness of foods, and be sure to respect the wishes of an older person whenever they complain of discomfort.
Encourage eating with others
For many elderly individuals, the latter years of life are lonely, and this can carry over into problems with appropriate food consumption. Dining alone can lead to decreased appetite and an elderly person may not eat enough if they are in this situation.
That is why caregivers should seek to bring older individuals into social environments whenever possible for at least some of the daily meals. While this can be challenging if an older person lives alone and is receiving assisted living, there are ways of helping them either get out of their home or bring others into their home for shared dining. For example, arranging a diners "club" on where older persons are brought together at a favorite restaurant can be hugely beneficial. The "club" can have set meeting dates and times, and this will serve to provide an event to which an elderly person can look forward to each week.
If it is impractical due to health or mobility reasons for an individual to leave their home, then caregivers should bring others to them. Locate nearby residents of a community who are able and willing to join your senior for lunch or dinner; you will likely have no trouble finding someone else who will look forward to the mutual enjoyment of meals.Share
18 April 2016
When my mom had a stroke, I knew that things were never going to be the same. We were very fortunate that she lived so close to the hospital and that the neighbor was there visiting when it happened, because the outcome is not as bad as it could have been. Unfortunately, she needed a lot of extra care while she worked to recover from the damage that was done. I found a wonderful assisted living facility to place her in to get the help that she needed. If you have a loved one that has recently experienced the same thing, my blog could be quite helpful for you.