Mealtimes can be hectic for family caregivers, especially if their senior loved ones have behavioral problems or reduced motor function that makes chewing and swallowing a challenge. As a caregiver, you need to learn why your loved one has a loss of appetite and develop ways to solve the issues. Below are some of the reasons aging adults tend to lose their appetite and tips for handling each situation.
Seniors with neurological disorders such as dementia or Alzheimer’s could lose their appetite if their plates are packed with food. Large portions could overwhelm your loved one and cause him or her to act out. Limit serving sizes and consider using smaller plates. To ensure your loved one eats well-balanced meals, serve smaller meals four or five times per day, as opposed to three traditional meals (i.e., breakfast, lunch, and dinner).
A trained caregiver can provide expertise and additional support to encourage your loved one to eat well. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of elderly home care. Portland families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet your elderly loved one’s unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia.
2. Changed Taste Buds
Most adults take multiple medications in their senior years, and the side effects could include changes in their senses of taste and smell. Foods that were once delicious could now smell unpleasant or have an aftertaste due to the medicines. Let your loved one try different types of fruits, meats, vegetables, whole grains, and dairy products to determine which items are more appealing.
3. Cognitive Impairment
Cognitive decline could lead to issues such as memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and lack of sound judgment. These are factors that could prevent your loved one from cooking, causing him or her to skip meals. Help your loved one with meal prep, ensuring he or she has the nutrients necessary to boost cognitive health, prevent poor nutrition, enhance mental wellbeing, and strengthen bone health.
Helping a loved one get proper nutrition when he or she doesn’t want to eat can be exhausting. If you’re the primary family caregiver for an elderly loved one and need additional assistance providing high-quality homecare, Home Care Assistance can help. We are a leading home care agency committed to changing the way seniors age.
One of the signs of dehydration in seniors is the loss of appetite. Make sure your parent drinks plenty of fluids and eats water-based foods that can reduce the risk of dehydration. Staying hydrated can also prevent neurological issues that increase appetite loss.
Most adults work up an appetite after doing mentally stimulating activities or physical exercises. However, if your loved one lives a sedentary lifestyle, he or she could lose his or her appetite. You can handle this issue by promoting fun activities that keep your loved one active, such as dancing, yoga, swimming, gardening, and various sports.
6. Weakened Mouth Muscles
As seniors age, their muscles weaken, including the mouth and jaw muscles. As a result, it could be challenging for seniors to chew and swallow their food, causing them to lose their appetite. To prevent malnutrition, consider pureeing your loved one’s meals or serving soft foods full of vitamins and minerals. You could also encourage your loved one to do exercises that strengthen the mouth and jaw muscles, making it easier to eat.
Seniors who aren’t able to eat enough to get proper nutrition may need a higher level of care. If your senior loved one needs around-the-clock assistance at home, the Portland live-in care professionals at Home Care Assistance are here to help. Our proprietary Balanced Care Method was designed to promote longevity by encouraging seniors to focus on healthy eating, regular exercise, mental engagement, and other important lifestyle factors. Reach out to us at Home Care Assistance if you need compassionate, professional care for your loved one. Call one of our friendly Care Managers today at (207) 835-4849.