As a person ages, it is not uncommon for them to start losing their appetite for one reason or another. But when that senior lives alone, a loss of appetite can cause rapid weight loss that quickly places their freedom and independence at risk. If you are currently caring for an elderly loved who is aging in place and is not interested in eating due to a loss of appetite, it can be frustrating trying to come up with healthy dishes that they will eat.
Why Do Seniors Lose Their Appetite?
Here are several possible reasons why foods once enjoyed no longer appeal to a senior:
- Dentures – Poorly fitting dentures can cause gum discomfort that makes chewing painful. Have the dentist adjust their dentures or replace them with a new set.
- Swallowing Difficulties – Some seniors have a swallowing impairment that keeps them from eating as they should.
- Sensory Changes – As the aging process continues, it is not uncommon for a senior’s sense of taste and smell to change. As a result, foods once enjoyed are no longer appetizing.
- An Illness – Certain types of diseases can diminish appetite, like periodontal disease, cancer, thyroid abnormalities, and Alzheimer’s.
- Medications –Some prescription medications can cause side effects including nausea and loss of appetite. Chemotherapy and radiation are notorious for turning patients off to food.
- Loneliness and Depression – When an elderly person loses a spouse or becomes socially isolated for another reason, the resulting loneliness and depression can cause a diminished appetite.
Try These Nutritious Meal Ideas
When some of a senior’s favorite dishes no longer appeal to them, it is time to try some new menu selections. Here are some tasty meal ideas to try that will also provide their body with the daily calories and nutrients it needs:
- Crockpot oatmeal
- Whole-grain pancakes or waffles
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Greek yogurt parfaits
- Toast and peanut butter
- Pasta dishes that contain fish or chicken
- Salads with lots of fresh vegetables
- Stir-fry dishes
- Rice and beans
- Liver and vegetables
- Pasta with chicken or shrimp
- Salads containing vegetables and chicken
When you are in a hurry, a crockpot is a useful way to prepare several days’ worth of meals in advance with very little time involved. You can also cut up fresh fruit and vegetables ahead of time and store them in the refrigerator for nutritious snacks. Make sure to serve your senior foods from the essential food groups every day to keep their body strong and healthy. If additional recipe ideas for nutritious meals are needed, consult a registered dietician.
Consider A Meal Service
Notably, when you live far away, another reliable option is arranging for a meal service to deliver some nutritious dishes right to your loved one’s door. These companies offer convenient online ordering and to-the-door deliveries:
- Netgrocer (www.grocer.net)
- Peapod (www.peapod.com)
- Meals on Wheels (www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org)
- Schwan’s (www.schwans.com)
When Solid Food Is Not An Option
If your loved one deals with a swallowing impairment or chewing discomfort, try serving them a nutritious smoothie or milkshake that you make in the blender using ingredients like Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, milk, ice cream or protein powder. Or, buy them some ready-to-drink liquid nutrition supplements. A high-protein smoothie or shake has the same nutritional and caloric value as a small meal. Pureed foods, healthy broths, and applesauce also work well when solid food is not an option.
In-Home Caregivers Prepare Nutritious Meals For Seniors
Trying to feed a senior with a loss of appetite can be challenging, especially when you have your own household to manage or live far away. If you need a hand, contact Hibernian Home Care. As a fully accredited, licensed, and insured Home Care agency, our highly trained and thoroughly screened caregivers can step in and provide your loved one with the food shopping and meal assistance they need so they can keep continuing aging comfortably in place right where they want to be, their own home.
While there, our compassionate caregivers can also provide services like light housekeeping, personal hygiene, medication reminders, transportation, and companionship. And, all our home care amenities can be individually combined within an affordable package when and where you need them! To learn more about Hibernian Home Care, or to schedule a FREE, in-home consultation for you or a senior loved one today, please call 732-481-1148 or visit us online today!