Some seniors refuse to eat
Some older adults refuse to eat because they’ve lost their appetite. This is a big problem for caregivers because seniors still need to get enough nutrients to stay healthy.
Make sure there aren’t any serious health problems
It’s tough convincing someone with no appetite to eat. First, it’s important to rule out serious health conditions, medication side effects, and dental problems.
Once you know your senior’s overall health is ok, start experimenting with different ways to entice them to eat more. Everyone is different, so if our previous list of 6 tips didn’t improve the situation, give these 9 additional ideas a try.
9 tips to get seniors with no appetite to eat
1. Solve discomfort caused by medication side effects
Some medications cause dry mouth. Before meals, ask your senior to chew some sugarless gum, brush their teeth, or use an oral rinse. This gets saliva flowing, reduces discomfort, and improves their ability to taste, which can make them more willing to eat.
2. Get rid of strange tastes caused by medication side effects
Some medications cause a strange taste in the mouth that affects the way food or water tastes.
If meat tastes strange or metallic, serve different sources of protein like beans or dairy. Use plastic forks and knives if metal silverware makes the taste worse. If water tastes funny, add mint, sliced fruit, lemon, or cucumber. You could also try flavored water enhancers (like this one), available at grocery and drugstores.
3. Make mealtime a pleasant experience
Some people respond well to a nice setting and good company for dinner. Set the table, light candles, and put on soft music. It can be lonely or depressing to eat alone all the time. Sit and eat with them, chatting about pleasant topics during the meal.
4. Give choice and control
When someone is ill or frail, they lose their independence. Refusing to eat can feel like a way to regain some control over their own life.
Give your older adult back some of that control by giving choices between different foods or involving them in meal planning.
5. Serve water between meals and limit fluids during meals
Dehydration can suppress appetite, so it’s important to keep your older adult hydrated. Some liquids are needed to help moisten and swallow food safely, but serving a lot of fluids during meals can fill seniors up too much to eat well.
Try to keep the majority of beverages for post-meal relaxation and also encourage them to drink water between meals as a healthy habit.
6. Make the flavors stronger
Taste buds often become less sensitive as we age. Bland foods certainly won’t help stimulate appetite. Try using stronger or more seasonings and make sure food isn’t sour tasting.
7. Experiment with foods at different temperatures
Some people change their preferences for food temperature. Try hot, warm, or cold meals to see what temperature your senior likes most.
8. Stimulate appetite with a little alcohol
Having a little beer or wine before a meal can be a safe way to stimulate your older adult’s appetite. Of course, check with the doctor first to make sure alcohol won’t interfere with medication or harm their health.
9. Take advantage of hungry moments
If your senior asks for more food, give second helpings or larger portions. It doesn’t matter what time it is or what the food is, just take advantage of their hunger to get a few more calories and nutrients into their body.
Getting someone to eat when they don’t want to is a tough challenge. Don’t feel discouraged if your first or even tenth attempts don’t work. Keep trying and eventually you’ll find a way to get your older adult to eat a little more.
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
Image: Philips Lifeline