How to help when seniors lose their appetite
Getting someone to eat when they have no appetite is a tough challenge.
First, it’s important to rule out serious health conditions, medication side effects, and dental problems.
Once you know your older adult’s overall health isn’t causing their loss of appetite, experiment with different ways to entice them to eat more.
Don’t feel discouraged if your first or even fourteenth attempts don’t work. Keep trying and eventually you’ll find a way to encourage your older adult to eat a little more.
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 older adult 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.
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 they like best.
8. Stimulate appetite with a little alcohol
Having a small amount of 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 older adult 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.
Next Step Each person is different, so if these 9 ideas don’t improve the situation, get 6 additional ideas for getting someone to eat
Recommended for you:
- 6 Ways to Get Seniors with No Appetite to Eat
- 10 Reasons Why Seniors Lose Their Appetite
- How to Get Someone with Dementia to Eat: 8 Expert Tips
By DailyCaring Editorial Team
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My mom fall from her bed since that she’s severely weak and loss her appetite. What advice can you give plz
Your mom needs to be examined by a doctor as soon as possible to find out if there were any injuries from her fall and if the injuries are causing her current weakness and loss of appetite or if something else is causing those symptoms.
think if cool of cool finger food. sootning to
my old throat (age 83 with a.FIB, CHF, ASVD MULTIPLE STENTS, PARSLYSIS OF L VOCAL CHORD) . LOSS OF SMELL DOESNT HELP. SMALL FREQUENT SNACKS HELP, ALSO!
Thanks for sharing your experience and what’s worked for you!
Hi my mom is 87 years and has a mild form of dementia i took time off work to look after her since last October she has porridge for breakfast tea and brown bread tea later maybe toast dinner then does eat a bit chicken beef lamb fish fry and vegetables a desert which she likes tea after that then we have tea in the evening a small meal and drinks watef through the day i used to give her hot chocolate at night dont like it.
Thanks for sharing what works for your mom!
April Lynn Thompson
My patient has lose her appetite, she will only drink ensure milk.is this still good
Drinks like Ensure aren’t the healthiest option, but are certainly better than nothing.
First, it’s important to rule out serious health conditions, medication side effects, and dental problems as the cause of her loss of appetite.
If none of these issues are present, it’s possible that your patient finds it easier to drink something rather than to eat solids. If so, she might also enjoy homemade smoothies made with healthy ingredients.
Here are some ideas to start you thinking about different types of smoothies: 10 Quick and Easy Dysphagia Diet Recipes (for Swallowing Problems): 5 Ingredients or Less https://dailycaring.com/10-quick-and-easy-dysphagia-diet-recipes-for-swallowing-problems-5-ingredients-or-less/
This article has additional suggestions to boost appetite: 6 Ways to Get Seniors with No Appetite to Eat https://dailycaring.com/6-ways-to-get-seniors-with-no-appetite-to-eat/
Me and my mother are going to visit a sick elderly relative tomorrow. He doesn’t want to eat anything so I decided to come. I sure hope one of these tips will help him.
It’s wonderful that you’re going to visit him, I’m sure having some company will lift his spirits. I hope these suggestions are useful!