Elder Health Care Professionals In Louisville KY Share Their Tips

Helping A Senior With A Loss Of Appetite

Eldercare is an extremely important aspect of health care in general. The senior citizens in local communities deserve to be taken care of with as much dignity and kindness as possible. That being said, senior citizens can become stubborn at times with their appetites. Whether it is as simple as not being hungry, or a more serious health issue, a balanced and nutritious diet is essential for their health.

When faced with an elderly adult who is not open to eating, it can be downright stressful. As eating is necessary for all humans, a loss of appetite can have negative side effects. A lack of nutrition for an elderly adult, however, can be disastrous. In an effort to spread some knowledge, the article below outlines the importance of elder nutrition and 7 tips on how to stimulate the appetite.

Why Elder Nutrition Is So Important

A nutritious and well-balanced diet is important for everyone. For an elderly resident, however,  nutrition can play a large roll in their overall health. One aspect of elder nutrition to keep in mind is that each senior is going to have different dietary needs. Overall, however, a diet that is well-balanced with the proper vitamins can contribute to the well-being of their health and mental state.

Seniors can tend to lose their appetites much more frequently than younger adults. A slowing metabolism and a decreased ability to absorb nutrients that give us energy can be causes of natural appetite loss. The fewer calories that are eaten are directly proportional to the number of nutrients the body takes in.

A few things that can be affected by malnutrition are:

  • Organ function including the eyes
  • Memory and cognitive abilities
  • Bone and muscle health
  • Immune system decrease
  • Lowering of chronic illness prevention (diabetes, Alzheimers, elevated blood pressure)

These effects on the body can become life-threatening for seniors which is why mal-nutrition is not something to take lightly.

Tips For Stimulating A Senior’s Appetite

When faced with a difficult situation where an elder does not have an appetite, there are some things that can be done to help. Here are the 7 best tips for increasing a seniors hunger level:

1. Prepare Their Favorite Dishes

While this might seem like a no brainer, many seniors enjoy the “not so healthy” options we all crave from time to time. If preparing their favorite meals will help them digest some food, do so; within moderation of course.

2. Seek A Therapist

A loss of appetite in a senior can be due to some mental stress or depression. When at an advanced age, sometimes a lack of purpose in like can occur. A therapist can often help with these issues. Also, giving personal responsibility and making them feel needed can elevate those feelings.

3. Opt For Small Meals Or Snacks

Most adults are used to eating three meals a day, so that is what we automatically do. When there is a lack of hunger, sometimes having several small meals, or even just snacks can help. This will also take the pressure off of the person when faced with a large meal.

4. Try Red Dishes

Interestingly enough, research studies have shown that eating off red plates and bowls can stimulate appetite. Many researchers have concluded that there is a link between appetite and color association. An easy way to try this is by grabbing some inexpensive red party plates from the store.

5. Pay Attention To Body Language

Unfortunately, as we age, small movements like lifting a fork to the mouth, or even chewing something tough like a steak, can be painful. On the other hand, many elders are not going to give you this info for fear of embarrassment. The best thing to do is to pay attention to small winces or other subtle signs. Also, cut food into small pieces. Do finger food as much as possible, and consider things like long straws and light utensils.

6. Acupuncture

While acupuncture is a fairly new concept in regards to stimulating appetites, early research has shown it does help. If the senior has had successful acupuncture previously or is open to trying it, it is a non-invasive way to help add some nutrients to the diet.

7. Think Of Yourself

This last one may seem odd, but try putting yourself in their shoes. Think of the last time you had the flu. With all the aches, pains, exhaustion, and lack of appetite, it was probably difficult to eat. Try some ways that made it easier for you. Overall though, eating a balanced diet can be a source of stress for an elderly adult. Keeping meals as light and enjoyable as possible can make a big difference.

What To Do When There Is No Improvement

If the above tips do not make a difference, it’s important to contact a medical professional. There are many physical ailments that can reduce the appetite that should be taken care of right away. While some can be an easy fix, such as some minor pain, other issues can be more serious and will have further reach side effects than just an appetite.

Besides speaking with a doctor, you can also talk with other people that may spend time with the person. Whether it is a another caregiver, friend or family member, they may have more insight as to why there is a lack of appetite.

Village East, Inc

Village East is a non-profit senior living community. With dedication and care, they have been serving the senior community in Louisville KY for over 20 years. Elder lifestyle is something that should be enjoyed, which is what the staff at Village East sets out to do for each member of their community.

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