Tempting Poor Appetites

Tempting Poor Appetite Elderly Person Eating
Over a lifetime the average American spends about three years eating. That’s a lot of meals. By the time you’ve reached late life, food may have lost some of its appeal. There are a variety of reasons why people lose their appetites as they age:
  • Badly fitting dentures, gum disease, or dry mouth can make chewing difficult.
  • Taste and smell senses diminish with age. Food doesn’t taste as good as it used to.
  • Side effects of medications for heart disease, constipation, depression, and other disorders affect appetite.
  • People living alone don’t like to fix meals just for themselves.
  • Loneliness, sadness, depression, grief, and bereavement can all affect appetite.
  • Food shopping and preparing meals are increasingly hard to do.
  • Lack of physical activity.
  • Constipation.

Many older people can’t eat much at one time and prefer snacking throughout the day instead of eating three meals. Stock the cupboard and refrigerator with lots of healthy, ready-to-eat snacks:

  • Snack packs of pudding, jello, yogurt, cottage cheese, applesauce, and canned fruit.
  • Single-serving cans of fruit or vegetable juice.
  • Cheese and crackers with fresh fruit.
  • Ice cream bars and popsicles are tempting when nothing else tastes good.
  • Cut up raw vegetables with low-fat dip.

Comfort Foods and Social Tips

Old-fashioned “comfort foods” are easy to eat and bring back fond memories of earlier meals. Use favorite family recipes or carry-out from supermarkets and restaurants.

  • Grilled cheese sandwich and a bowl of soup for lunch or dinner.
  • Macaroni and cheese.
  • Meatloaf with mashed potatoes and gravy.
  • Rice pudding with raisins.

If your family member has Alzheimer’s disease or a similar memory disorder, try serving several small meals of a couple of favorite foods throughout the day instead of three big meals. Serve finger foods or sandwiches. Avoid foods that might cause choking: nuts, raw vegetables, popcorn, and small candies.

Other “non-food” ways to improve a poor appetite:

  • Invite a neighbor to share a sandwich and dessert with you and your relative.
  • Eat your lunch together on the back porch.
  • Ask your loved one to help prepare a meal with you.
  • Take a walk together before a meal.

This article is courtesy of Active Daily Living.