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Addressing Loss of Appetite in the Elderly

June 29th, 2016

noodles-516635_1920It seems that nothing in the human body is safe from the effects of aging including taste buds. Sad but true, the taste buds become less able to savor the true flavor of food as we age. But, is that the only reason a loss of appetite occurs in your elderly loved one? The experts in home health in Orlando, BrightStar Care, explore the reasons behind loss of appetite in seniors, when you should be concerned, and what you can do to help ensure appropriate nutrition is being consumed.

Possible causes of loss of appetite:

  • Loss of visual acuity and sense of smell which can affect the actual appeal of food.
  • Concern over finances. As folks are living longer, the concern over having enough money for food and other expenses is very real.
  • Eating alone, especially after the loss of a significant life partner.
  • Depression.
  • Fear of choking or difficulty eating as a result of tooth loss or poorly fitted dentures.
  • Mobility restrictions that keep them from standing, walking around the kitchen, using utensils, or from performing other activities associated with meal preparation and eating.
  • Stomach issues resulting from medication side effects.

When you should be concerned about loss of appetite:

If you’ve begun to notice weight loss in your elderly loved one, it’s time to be concerned.
Regardless of whether or not they needed to lose weight, significant weight loss while not under a doctor’s care can be indicative of greater underlying issues. Loss of muscle tone, wasting of muscles, dehydration, lethargy, and slower brain function can all be attributed to lack of appropriate nutrition and are symptoms that you should be aware of.

Re-introducing better nutrition and regular meal times to your aging loved one:

  • Consume meals with your loved one to reduce the feeling of isolation.
  • Allow for extra time to consume the meal.
  • Serve favored dishes. It may help to stimulate interest in eating.
  • Let them decide portions. Too much on a plate can be overwhelming, and too little may cause them to think that there isn’t enough food to go around. Give them control.
  • Consider offering smaller portions more frequently during the day.
  • Check with their doctor to see if adding a nutritional supplement is appropriate.
  • If using a utensil becomes difficult to manage, consider changing them to a more user-friendly design and/or begin offering more finger foods to avoid embarrassment.

 

Home health care in Orlando is something to consider when navigating the waters of aging. Your loved ones deserve to live their lives to the fullest and in good health. Ensuring that they are having their nutritional needs met is a crucial component of staying healthy and happy. BrightStar Care is here to help. Contact us for additional information and learn about the many healthcare tips and services available to you and your aging family member. At BrightStar “we are the higher standard.”