The loss of appetite is a part of the normal aging process. While it is a common symptom in aging adults, it can often lead to nutritional deficiencies and unnecessary weight loss. Our elderly need sufficient nourishment to keep them strong and healthy, strengthen their immunity and recover from medical conditions.
Many reasons cause the loss of appetite in aging adults. Slower metabolism, medication side effects, difficulties in chewing and swallowing are some reasons why our elderly are losing their appetite.
It can still be very concerning to see a loved one start eating less. Here are some ways we can help to stimulate appetite in mature adults.
Set Up a Mealtime Routine
The concept of a mealtime routine is to train our elderly’s mind and body to habituate to eating at specific times every day. Scheduled meal times can act as a reminder that it’s time to eat. This would help to stimulate your loved one’s appetite as their body will gradually expect food around the scheduled time.
Make the Meal Count
Large portions can be overwhelming and discouraging, especially for our elderly who might already feel stressed over their appetite issues. Providing our elderly with smaller portions can be encouraging, it would also offer them a sense of accomplishment when they can finish their plate. A good meal plan would be to schedule 5 small meals instead of 3 typical meals.
It is also very important to ensure our elderly’s meals are packed with ample nutrients. Include fresh ingredients that are nutrient-dense and vitamin-packed. Some healthy choices that are beneficial for our elderly are avocado, olive oil, and soft cheese.
Encourage Healthy Snacks
With a 5 small meals routine, it might be handy to incorporate healthy snacks to complement the elderly’s meals. Full-fat yogurt, cheese sticks, crackers, and whole chocolate milk are examples of easy healthy snacks that our elderly can consume to add to their overall food intake.
Provide Easy to Eat Food
Having a meal can be more difficult than we thought for some of our elderly. The loss of coordination and shaky hands makes using utensils daunting. Some elderly might also have chewing difficulties which make eating very tedious. We can help to remove these barriers by providing healthy food that they can eat with their fingers instead. To ease their chewing difficulties, a nutritious smoothie or soup can be more appealing for our elderly.
Make Mealtimes Enjoyable
One reason many elderly are losing appetite is that they are not enjoying their mealtimes. Many elderly tend to eat alone, and that can be lonely and depressing. Providing our elderly with means of having social meals, will increase their appetite and at the same time provide them an opportunity to connect with others. A well-plated and appetizing-looking dish or even a nice table set-up can also help to stimulate our elderly’s appetite.
Engage in Exercise
Engaging in physical activities will increase energy need, thereby making our elderly feel hungry. Another benefit of exercise for our elderly is increased metabolism rate which can help to stimulate their appetite.
While appetite loss is prevalent in the elderly, we can help to stimulate their appetite to counteract this situation.