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What To Do About Appetite Decline In Seniors

Appetite decline is a common concern among seniors, impacting their overall health and well-being. While some slight changes in appetite can be normal, not eating enough can become worrisome when it starts to affect a senior’s health. Of course, this issue becomes even more complex when dealing with seniors facing dementia or illness. In this article, we'll explore the reasons behind appetite decline, its specific challenges in seniors with cognitive issues, and practical strategies to ensure they receive adequate nutrients and calories.


Understanding Appetite Decline:


o   Normal Aging Factors: A decreased sense of taste and smell, reduced physical activity, and changes in metabolism are common factors contributing to appetite decline in aging individuals.

o   Challenges in Seniors with Dementia or Illness: Cognitive issues, medications, and health conditions can exacerbate appetite decline, making it crucial to address the issue promptly. This can be due to hormonal changes, disruption of normal hunger signals to the brain, nausea due to medications, depression or severe stress/anxiety, and an array of other factors brought on by conditions that are not considered a normal or expected part of aging.


Practical Strategies for Managing Appetite Decline:


o   Nutrient-Dense Foods: Focus on including a variety of foods that provide adequate macros as well as all the important vitamins and minerals to maximize the nutritional value of each bite.

o   Regular, Small Meals: Offer smaller, more frequent meals to make eating more manageable for seniors. If preparing or ordering food feels like a barrier to the senior and is making them skip meals, look into ready-to-eat meal subscriptions where you can order ahead for the whole month and customize the senior’s dietary preferences and restrictions. Everyone is more likely to eat a healthy meal when there is one readily available.

  • Hydration: Ensure proper hydration, as dehydration can impact appetite. Offer a variety of beverages, including water, herbal teas, and soups or homemade broths. Offer a good selection of nutrient and water-dense foods, especially fruits, vegetables, and juices to keep in their fridge or on their counter.

  • Nostalgic foods: Ask them what they used to like to eat and re-introduce some of their favorite dishes to make eating more enjoyable again.


Appetite Management for Seniors with Dementia or Illness:


o   Texture-Modified Diets: Modify food textures based on swallowing capabilities, ensuring safety and comfort during meals.

o   Consistent Meal Environment: Create a calm and familiar mealtime environment to reduce anxiety and encourage eating.

  • Specialized Nutritional Supplements: Consult with a healthcare professional about specialized nutritional supplements to address nutrient deficiencies.


Collaborating with a Healthcare Team:

o   Consult with a Dietitian: Seek guidance from a dietitian to create personalized meal plans tailored to the individual's nutritional needs.

o  Regular Health Assessments: Schedule regular health assessments to identify and address any underlying health issues affecting appetite.


Managing appetite decline in seniors, especially those with cognitive issues and health complications, requires a multifaceted approach. If you would like assistance in caring for an elderly loved one, request a FREE call with one of our geriatric care management experts at seniorsteps.prg/book-online.


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