Five Causes for Loss of Appetite in Elderly People and How to Help

senior man with caregiver at table

Help a loved one eat better with these useful tips about loss of appetite in elderly people.

After the indulgence associated with the holiday season, a lot of people choose to scale back on calorie consumption. But when an older adult refuses to eat altogether, or perhaps is making unhealthy or unbalanced dietary choices, it’s important to look for the cause behind this behavior and to recognize how to help them get on track with more nutritious eating.

What Can Cause Changes in an Older Adult’s Eating Behaviors?

There are several key reasons for a loss of appetite in elderly people or for making unhealthy dietary choices – and strategies you can employ to help overcome them:

  • Loneliness. This is a common problem among older adults and can make mealtime less enjoyable. Share meals whenever you can with a lonely senior loved one, invite friends and neighbors to join them, or contact CareWorks Health Services for a caregiving companion to help.
  • Complications with dental health. Check with the dentist to determine if dentures need to be refitted or if there are any other dental concerns that need to be addressed. You can also provide foods that are softer and/or cut them into smaller pieces. Lentils, ground meat, and beans, for example, are easier to chew than a pork chop or steak.
  • Side effects from medications. Schedule an appointment with the doctor for a complete examination of all medications being taken, and find out if one or more could be causing a loss of appetite or bothersome gastrointestinal effects. See if the medication can be changed to a more tolerable alternative or if the dosage can be modified.
  • Loss of taste or smell. Aging as a whole oftentimes leads to a dulling of these senses, which may impact the satisfaction of eating. Try experimenting with more aromatic and flavorful spices and herbs when preparing meals, such as ginger, garlic, and thyme.
  • Low vision. If the person is unable to see clearly, they might regard foods differently and lose interest in eating. Vision problems can also make it difficult and even dangerous to prepare meals as well as get out to grab groceries. Offer to help with shopping and meal prep (or learn how we can help!), and serve foods that are vibrantly colored and contrasted to the colors of serving dishes, place mats, the tablecloth, etc. so they’re more easily seen.

CareWorks Health Services is here for individuals struggling to maintain a balanced and healthy diet, for whatever reason. We can partner with you to make sure all the bases are covered in providing older adults with every chance to once again enjoy meals and establish improved eating habits. Give us a call at (949) 859-4700 to discover exactly how we provide the kind of senior care Corona Del Mar and other nearby areas prefer most. For more information about all of the different areas that we serve, please visit our Service Area page.