Have you ever visited a parent or grandparent and found that food had spoiled in the refrigerator? What about canned goods that have long expired? Molded bread?
Many seniors find eating to be an issue. The nutritional nourishment of a senior, aging in place, can suffer and negatively affect their health. A loss of appetite is a challenge that must be confronted to help seniors receive essential nourishment to sustain themselves. A senior’s quality of life is directly tied to being well nourished and remaining as active as possible. If loss of appetite is not caused by a health or medication issue, here are some contributing factors that can result in a loss of appetite.
Lack of exercise
Regular exercise and activity boosts appetite. Sometimes, seniors need to work up an appetite be-fore they can eat.
Being dehydrated can cause loss of appetite. Many older adults don’t get enough fluids and be-come dehydrated more easily because of age-related changes or medication consumption.
Lack of routine
Getting into a daily routine where meals are eaten around the same time every day can help their body feel ready to eat at those times.
Loss of taste
With age, many people’s taste buds become less able to detect flavors. Normal food might be bland and unappetizing to them.
Inability to prepare meals
Seniors who live independently might not be eating because preparing their own meals has be-come too difficult.
Sensitivity to smells
Sometimes people develop a sensitivity to the smell of certain foods that can make them feel nauseated or unable to eat.
Depression or loneliness
Depression affects one in 10 seniors and often causes loss of appetite. Many older adults may also dislike mealtime because they have nobody to eat with and their loneliness gets intensified.
Loss of control
When older adults are dependent on others for everything, they have lost control over how they want to live their lives. Sometimes, not being able to choose what to eat makes someone not want to eat at all.
Mealtimes are unpleasant
If mealtimes have become a time for disagree-ments or arguments about their eating, seniors could associate food with unpleasantness and avoid it.
The bottom line is simple. Getting seniors who have no appetite to eat is a big challenge. Therefore, it might be time to begin researching options for as-sisted living. While no one wants to make the decision to move an aging parent out of their home, there may come a time when that choice is in their best interest. Call around, ask questions and be ready! When com-paring homes, inquire if the home is willing to adapt cooking and preparation methods to adhere to vari-ous dietary restrictions to ensure a loved one might be able to enjoy meals that fit within their dietary needs and preferences. Does the regular daily routine incor-porate scheduled snack and mealtimes? Lastly, take a tour (if possible) and observe if residents gather together at a table. Remember, eating is as much a social event as it is a survival activity.