Perhaps you are of the older generation of folks, or maybe you are a caretaker for someone who is elderly. Whatever the case may be, it is more than likely that your appetite is not in the best shape. While it is an inevitable sign of the digestive system changing due to old age, it can be difficult to stomach the truth. Pun intended.
In any case, you do not have to be worried about appetite loss because it can always be improved. We are here to help. Below are stress-free ways to improve the appetite of elderly people easily, making it hassle-free to get back into enjoying what you love, e.g. food! Without further ado, let’s begin!
Things to Consider When it Comes to Appetite Loss
Before you start improving your appetite (or that of your elderly patient), you will need to consider the possible reasons why the appetite is lacking in the first place. Essentially, we can attribute a loss in appetite to a few of these factors:
Suppose the elderly person has a food allergy that he or she had not known about. Whether it is an allergy to dairy products, wheat, or to seafood – having such an allergy can affect how the stomach processes (or rather, rejects) the food consumed. Being careful when you expose yourself (or your patient) to different foods is the way to go.
2. Portion control.
Serving either too large or too small of a portion can be a problem, as it can interfere with the digestive tract. Too large of a portion can lead to discomfort and indigestion, while a portion that is too small can leave one unsatisfied and prone to consuming more food later on. Either way, none of them are ideal.
3. Use of spices and herbs.
As you age, your taste buds start to fade, meaning that taste becomes less intense and flavorful. That said, spices and herbs, such as chili powder, cilantro, or even black pepper, might not taste the same as it once did, which, as a result, can discourage elderly people from eating. Lack of flavor means a meal that is less palatable and thus, less desirable.
4. Changes to the digestive system.
Naturally, as people get older, it is not uncommon to start developing problems in terms of digestion. From aspects like constipation and bloating to ulcers, there are a variety of issues that are annoying and even dangerous, but also an inevitable part of life.
How to Improve the Appetite
Now that you know some possible reasons why elderly people have problems with their appetites, it is now time to reverse that trend. Here, we give you a breakdown of possible options that you can do to change the situation:
1. Make it a routine.
If you have spent a large part of your life with an irregular eating schedule, then it might be a good idea to change those habits and aim for a consistent eating schedule.
For instance, if you normally skip breakfast, then it can be beneficial to try to start to eat in the morning. Not only will this stimulate your appetite, but it will also help you control your appetite for the subsequent meals, i.e. lunch and dinner.
2. Drink plenty of fluids.
Water and other liquids are of the most essential aspects of keeping your health and wellness in tact, in terms of maintaining chemical balances in the body that keep you feeling good and refreshed.
If you are lacking proper hydration, then help yourself to a glass of water to hydrate and re-energize. Aim for a few glasses each day, and you will start to notice your appetite returning to normal as well.
3. Keep a positive mind.
This is more of a psychological point, but it is not only physical factors that can have an impact to your appetite, but also on your current mental state as well. For instance, people with depression either tend to overeat or eat nothing at all, which then upsets the balance in the digestive system.
That said, if you are feeling just a little bit down, try to do some uplifting activities, like spending time with friends, exercising, or watching your favorite television show. Having a happier outlook on life will make you more likely to resume a normal digestive balance. In addition to that, if you suffer from depression, talking to a therapist can be a good alternative to consider.
4. Social eating.
Adding on from point #3 above, spending time with good friends not only cheers you up, but it can also encourage social eating, where all of you get together and have a nice meal around the table. This is especially great if you do not feel the incentive to eat on your own because having friends to cook and eat with can be a great influence in the way you eat.
Perhaps you can plan out a dinner during the week to get together at the house and enjoy the company of one another. All through food, of course! You can plan out who will make what dish and then bring it over, pot-luck style, for everyone to taste and enjoy. This is also a good way to expand your palate to new flavors and cuisines!
5. Try cooking different dishes and/or cuisines.
While delicious, cooking steak and potatoes every day over a long period of time can really put you in a rut, not to mention get you tired of the taste quickly. With that being said, why not spice it up?
In other words, expand your cooking skills to other dishes out there: test out a new spaghetti recipe or try your hand at preparing seafood. Or, if you still cannot give up steak and potatoes, try adding different seasonings (herbs, garlic powder, chili powder) to shake up the usual salt-and-pepper standard. Not only will it be more interesting, but also potentially more delicious!
The appetite is a delicate balance between physiological and mental conditions that can change drastically as you get older. However, instead of succumbing to it, stimulate it by reevaluating your lifestyle and cooking new dishes! Pretty soon, you will have a solid appetite to enjoy the pleasures of eating again.
Featured photo credit: Appetite of Elderly People via ascseniorcare.com