Is your elderly loved one not eating? Are you concerned about their lack of appetite? If so, it is important to understand that a natural part of aging is a change in appetite and a loss of appetite. It doesn't always mean that there is a major health problem. However, it is also important that senior citizens are getting their nutrients in order to stay strong and healthy. So, here are a few tips to hopefully get your loved one back on track:
Tip #1: Stick to a Regular Meal Schedule.
Your body needs a little bit of regularity. If you don't stick to a regular eating schedule, then your appetite is going to get off-balance. It is important to realize that your elderly loved one's ability to realize when they are hungry is going to decline as they get older, so they may not even realize that they're hungry until they start eating. This is why it is so important to have a regular schedule for meals and snacks. Setting up a schedule will help jump-start your loved one's hunger signals again.
Tip #2: Avoid Foods That Require Utensils.
Some older adults are unable to use forks, spoons, and knives, which leads to a lot of frustration. This frustrations makes them not even want to eat. To help avoid this, try to avoid foods that require them to eat with utensils. Some possible foods include fish sticks, chicken nuggets/strips, and steamed/raw vegetables, such as broccoli, carrots, and cucumber pieces.
Tip #3: Try Foods That Don't Require Chewing.
Is your loved one possibly not wanting to eat because it's extremely difficult to chew? First, you can try cutting up food in small bites. However, if he or she is still finding it difficult, then it's time to try foods that are more liquidy. Some possible things to try include yogurt, fruit/veggie smoothies, nutritious soups, pureed meats and vegetables, and even milkshakes if it comes down to it.
Tip #4: Consider Social Eating.
For many individuals, eating alone can make people not want to eat. For senior citizens, this is often a problem that is enhanced. So, it is a good idea to make sure that you schedule time for the entire family to get together for meals. If your loved one has friends in the area that are able to come over, invite them over for a meal every once in a while. It's also a good idea to check in with local community centers, churches, senior centers, etc. and see what they have available when it comes to meals. For some seniors, meal delivery services can be enough to stimulate their appetite.
All in all, you just have to do a little trial and error and see what works for your elderly loved one. While one thing may work for your friend's elderly grandmother, the same thing may not necessarily work for yours. If your loved one's appetite doesn't improve, it is important to check in with a health care professional to ensure that there isn't an underlying health condition that needs to be addressed. You may also want to consider moving them into a nursing center, like the one represented at http://www.vvrconline.org, so that someone can more closely monitor their eating habits.