Aging can lead to many physiological changes in older adults. These can result in poor appetite and a change in eating habits.
While appetite loss and weight loss can be a sign of normal aging, older adults who experience such rapid and unexplained weight loss may suffer from a health condition like anorexia.
If you are worried about a senior loved one’s loss of appetite resulting in nutritional deficiencies, then let’s go over some causes of elderly appetite loss.
We’ll also look at how to ensure sufficient nutrition.
What Can Cause Decreased Appetite in the Elderly?
There are many reasons your elderly loved ones have found it hard to pick up the fork and lose weight.
The most common is a lower resting metabolic rate, a normal part of growing old.
Anorexia, or decreased appetite, is often a symptom of several underlying causes. Let’s go over some of these medical conditions below:
Chronic Medical Conditions
- Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease
- Chronic Liver Disease
- Thyroid Disorders
- Some Cancer Types
- Throat Infections
- Chewing Difficulties
- Dry Mouth
Other Medical Conditions
- Kidney Failure
- Bone Loss
- Lack of Vitamin D
- Skin Infections
- Upper Respiratory Infections
These risk factors make it inconvenient to eat at best and are life-threatening at worst! These conditions reduce appetite greatly and don’t go away like the common flu.
Older adults who suffer from any of these symptoms find eating difficult or may not be able to cook consistently.
They must be dealt with alongside strategies to encourage adults to eat more.
These conditions may seriously damage their health if they are not looked after.
Why Would an Elderly Stop Eating?
In addition to the conditions listed above, several specific cases lead to a lack of appetite. They are a combination of aging, lifestyle, and even mental instability.
It is easier to solve these conditions with consistency and care. It is still best to consult a doctor if you suffer from these conditions, but they can be solved without serious medication.
Loss of Appetite and Energy in the Elderly
A lack of regular exercise and physical activity leads to a lack of appetite in the elderly.
This is a deadly cycle, as a lack of appetite leads to a lack of nutrients. This leaves senior citizens feeling tired and lethargic all the time.
Not exercising and not eating leads to rapid and often uncontrolled weight loss. This greatly weakens the immune system and leads to bad joints and muscular atrophy.
Nausea and Loss of Appetite in the Elderly
Psychological issues like anxiety disorders and stress can cause senior citizens to have less sensitive taste buds.
Food tastes like nothing or ends up tasting metallic due to messed-up hormones.
When what they are eating does not taste right or is tasteless, older adults choose not to eat.
This leads to even worse anxiety. This makes them even more nauseous and leaves them wanting to eat even less.
Loss of Appetite and Constipation in the Elderly
Chronic constipation is another issue that makes consistent nutrient intake unbearable.
Having a clogged digestive system leads to feelings of bloating as well as irritability and lethargy.
Until you can flush out all the toxins and flush them down the toilet, your elderly loved one will not even dare think about eating. It would be the furthest thing from their minds.
Loss of Appetite in Elderly With Dementia
Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia make it difficult for older adults to remember to take care of their health. They may think they have already a but may not have eaten in days.
Their minds will not register hunger as they should. They will also lose the memory of important motor skills like eating, chewing, and swallowing.
You will need to introduce artificial nutrition and hydration (ANH) to ensure they receive the right nutrients.
What to Do When an Elderly Person Has No Appetite
Family members worry when their beloved patriarch or matriarch suffers from a loss of appetite, unable to eat food they so lovingly prepared for others for all those years.
Fortunately, having no will to eat is not a death sentence. There are plenty of ways that families can retrain their loved ones to enjoy food and eat more routinely for the best results.
What Should the Elderly Eat With No Appetite?
The foods most likely to bring a return to form are the ones that offer the best taste and the most flavor.
Eating sweet fruit and sugary foods improves appetite because it reinvigorates the taste buds. If it gets seniors to eat, it’s alright to indulge once in a while.
Another significant issue is oral issues. You will need to retrain your mouth to chew and enjoy chewing by chewing sugarless gum.
Preparing food and finding time to eat is also a deciding factor on whether or not people eat. It is best to prepare smaller meals that can be eaten throughout the day.
You can even give them “finger foods” if they have problems using utensils.
What Can Stimulate an Older Person’s Appetite?
A consistent daily routine is an excellent way to fight off loss of appetite. This includes having a regular eating schedule. It means eating 6-8 small meals instead of three meals.
These smaller portions allow people to eat meals more frequently, encouraging metabolism and making it easier for elders to feel hungry.
This helps increase appetite and encourages users to eat more nutritious foods.
Physical activity also stimulates appetite, fighting weight gain while allowing users to maintain good body weight. Taking walks, lifting light weights and more increase appetite.
Having the right diet and exercise regime also helps regulate hormones, allowing elders to feel hungry on time and have the energy they need to enjoy the food they love.
Another way to stimulate the appetite is to stimulate the mind. This means cooking, preparing, and excitingly serving food, making it more appealing and appetizing.
If all else fails, making eating a social occasion means that older adults are more likely to enjoy eating while choosing healthier options.
They should enjoy eating with friends or in social circles.
The best way to encourage eating is to combine all of these steps. It means cooking food for seniors, having them eat on time, making food appealing, and enjoying it with them.
Treatment for Loss of Appetite in the Elderly
The best way to treat appetite loss medically is to identify and solve the underlying cause. If you have found the cause of your anorexia, it will be much easier to build up an appetite.
In addition to lifestyle changes and higher social interactions, appetite stimulant supplements have been found to help older adults struggling to eat.
It regulates their hormones, making them feel the right amount of hunger. They will feel the urge to eat again.
If that is not enough, it is best to consult your physician on eating food consistently and which medications to take to encourage your appetite.
Chronic diseases like chronic liver disease, oral conditions like dry mouth, and mental illnesses like anxiety disorder lower appetite and can make life difficult for elderly loved ones.
Fortunately, having a solid routine, cooking assistance, eating companions, an active lifestyle, and even supplementation can impact appetite and metabolism.
This allows older people to enjoy their meals, their lives, and good company!