Caregivers struggle to nourish seniors with no appetite
Getting seniors who have no appetite to eat can be a challenge.
There are many reasons why some older adults lose their appetite or refuse to eat.
But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re worried about them and are doing your best to give them the nutrition they need.
Sometimes simple changes can make a big difference. We share 6 suggestions for encouraging seniors who have lost their appetite to eat.
When trying these ideas, be patient, be creative, keep experimenting, and do your best not to get discouraged.
First, rule out serious health problems
If these issues aren’t causing the loss of appetite, your best bet is to experiment with different ways to get your older adult to eat.
6 ways to get seniors with no appetite to eat
1. Have a regular meal and snack schedule
Having a regular daily routine and serving food at roughly the same times every day helps their body be ready to eat at those times.
Don’t rely on your older adult’s ability to feel their hunger (it declines with age) before giving them food.
2. Serve smaller portions of high nutrient foods
Some people may feel overwhelmed if they see a large amount of food in front of them. Instead of a big plate, serve smaller portions.
Or, you could try switching to a daily routine where your older adult eats 5 small meals instead of 3 larger ones.
Boost the healthy calories in those smaller servings by adding:
- Finely chopped meat, cheese, egg
- Olive oil
- Peanut or other nut butters
- Soft cheeses like ricotta or mascarpone
To save time, you can still cook food in larger batches. Just store it in smaller individual containers so it’s easy to heat and serve.
3. Reduce the need for utensils
The frustration of not being able to use a spoon, fork, or knife could make some older adults not want to eat at all.
To help them eat more easily, try serving foods that can be eaten without utensils or trying adaptive utensils.
- Chicken strips or nuggets
- Fish sticks
- Steamed or raw veggies like carrots, broccoli, bell pepper strips, or cucumber pieces
4. Have plenty of easy-to-eat snacks on hand
Some people might prefer to graze throughout the day rather than eat full meals. That’s ok too.
Keep plenty of healthy, delicious, and easy-to-eat snacks available so they’re choosing from nutritious options.
- Cheese sticks or string cheese
- Full-fat yogurt
- Diced fruit, fresh or packaged
- Peanut butter and crackers
- Cheese and crackers
- Full-fat cottage cheese
- Whole milk or chocolate milk
5. Make milkshakes or smoothies
If chewing is difficult or tiring, even with small pieces of food, consider serving softer or more liquid-y foods.
- Nutritious soups – enhanced with cream, olive oil, or pureed meats and veggies
- Healthy smoothies – add bananas, fruit, full-fat yogurt, or veggies like carrots and spinach
- Hot cocoa
- Full-fat milk
- Milkshakes – good quality ice cream is better than eating nothing!
Important: This is not a solution for those with dysphagia (swallowing problems).
6. Keep track of what works
Take notes so you can keep track of the foods that your older adult enjoys, things they don’t like, and things that might be difficult to eat or are harder to digest.
You can also track what times of day they’re more willing to eat or when they have a better appetite.
Keeping track lets you experiment more with things that are working and avoid the things that aren’t.
Recommended for you:
- Why Do Seniors Lose Their Appetites? 10 Possible Reasons
- 9 More Ways to Get Seniors with No Appetite to Eat
- 6 Ideas to Get Seniors to Drink More Water
By DailyCaring Editorial Team