Home Care in Weston, CT - Tips for Helping Your Elderly Loved One Who Has Lost Interest in Food
One of the challenges in providing proper senior care or elder care, even when professional caregivers give the assistance as in home care, is when the person cared for loses their appetite. Seniors are especially vulnerable to problems caused by malnutrition. Seniors can waste away, becoming more susceptible to illness and death if the problem is not alleviated.
Causes of Loss of Appetite
According to Today’s Geriatric Medicine, some of the causes of lack of appetite in seniors include physical changes such as slowing metabolism, reduced sense of smell and taste, gastrointestinal problems, and even reduced hearing, which causes less enjoyment of the meals. In addition, loss of appetite may come from psychological changes that include changes in living situation, boredom, depression, reduction in independence, and reactions to loss of a loved one. Disease and side effects of medications also may cause loss of appetite.
- Changing metabolism - It is completely normal for people as they get older to require less caloric intake than when they were in their twenties or thirties. The body adjusts to the lower metabolism requirements and seniors naturally lose their desire for eating the same amount of food.
- Food does not smell or taste as good - As we get older, our ability to smell and taste food naturally diminishes. There becomes blandness in the eating process, which is enhanced by reduced hearing and its effect on social interaction. Certain gastrointestinal problems may arise or increase, such as lactose intolerance, increased heartburn, or acid reflux that reduce the enjoyment of eating foods. Even a pair of badly fitted dentures may reduce the enjoyment in eating.
- Psychological changes - It is extremely common for the elderly, especially widowed females who lose their independence, to become depressed. When depressed, the patient is not motivated to do anything and eating is such a chore it is not a desired activity.
- Many diseases such as heart problems, diabetes, or those that change the balance of the endocrine system cause reduction in appetites. Loss of appetite may be a side effect of any medications.
Here are some helpful suggestions on how senior care providers and family caregivers can improve the situation.
- Make meals a social event and a fun activity. Break up the monotony. Go out for pizza or hamburgers or order in delicious Asian foods.
- Have a regular eating schedule.
- Increase the nutritional density of the foods, so that less food quantity achieves the same caloric intake. It is OK to serve rich cakes and fattening ice cream as part of a meal.
- Spice up the foods a bit or use more flavors such as adding lemon juice to water.
- Consult with physicians about disease issues, medication side effects, and the possible addition of an appetite stimulant.
If you or an aging loved one are considering home care in Weston, CT or the surrounding areas, please contact SYNERGY HomeCare of Fairfield, CT at 203-923-8866.