Feeling Less Hungry? Here's How to Boost Appetite in SeniorsSkip to content

Reviving a Seniors Appetite

Published: Dec 29, 2022. Last Updated: Jan 8, 2023.

Are you or a loved one having difficulty getting hungry and enjoying meals? Loss of appetite is common among seniors, but it doesn't have to be an inevitable part of aging. Poor nutrition can lead to numerous health issues and even more age-related problems. Fortunately, there are ways for seniors to boost their appetite so they can maintain good nutritional health.

Read on to learn how you can help them get back on track with their eating habits.

Medical Causes of Decreased Appetite in Seniors

Before trying to find ways to increase a senior's appetite, it is important to understand the potential causes of their decreased appetite. Several medical conditions can reduce an individual's desire for food. These include:

  • Chronic diseases: Many seniors suffer from chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and cancer, which can affect appetite. For example, diabetes can cause fluctuations in blood sugar levels, leading to changes in appetite. Cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, can also cause loss of appetite.
  • Medications: Many medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, can have appetite-suppressing side effects. These include antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and painkillers. It is important for seniors to speak with their healthcare provider about any medications they are taking and their potential impact on appetite.
  • Dental problems: Poor dental health can make it difficult for seniors to chew and swallow food, leading to a decreased appetite. This is especially true for those who have lost teeth or have dentures that do not fit properly. It is important for seniors to prioritize maintaining good dental health in order to support a healthy appetite.

Non-Medical Causes of Decreased Appetite in Seniors

While medical conditions and medications are often the primary cause of decreased appetite in seniors, there are also non-medical causes that can contribute to this issue.

  • Psychological factors: Anxiety, depression, and loneliness can all affect appetite. For some seniors, the prospect of eating alone or in a group setting can be daunting. Making meals a social activity by inviting friends and family to join them for mealtime can boost their appetite.
  • Loss of smell and taste: When the senses of smell and taste are impaired, food may not be as appealing and seniors may not feel as hungry. As humans age, the taste buds and smell receptors become less sensitive. Making sure that meals are prepared with flavorful ingredients can help make them more enjoyable.
  • Difficulty with food preparation and mobility issues: If a senior has difficulty standing or using the stove, they may be less likely to prepare meals for themselves. This could also be due to forgetfulness or confusion. Simple meal ideas that require minimal preparation can be beneficial for seniors with mobility issues.

Strategies to Increase Appetite in Seniors

It is essential for seniors to get enough nutrients in order to stay healthy. Here are some strategies that may help increase appetite and make their meals more enjoyable.

  • Eat regularly scheduled meals: Establishing a consistent mealtime routine can help to increase appetite. This can be especially helpful for seniors who may be experiencing memory loss or confusion.
  • Make meals visually appealing: Presenting food in an appealing way can make it more appealing to eat. This may include using colorful plates, garnishing dishes with herbs or spices, and serving food in small portions.
  • Offer a variety of foods: Providing a range of food options can help to stimulate appetite. This can include both savory and sweet options, as well as foods that are familiar and those that are new.
  • Encourage socialization during meals: Eating with others can be an enjoyable and social activity that can help to increase appetite. Seniors who dine with friends or family may be more likely to eat larger portions and try new foods.
  • Provide a stimulating environment: Listening to music can provide a stimulating environment that can encourage seniors to eat. Having artwork or other decorations around the table can also help to provide visual stimulation and make meals more enjoyable.
  • Consider the use of supplements: For seniors who are struggling to meet their nutritional needs through food alone, supplements can be a helpful option. These can include protein shakes, fortified drinks, and other nutrient-rich products.

It is important to note that it is always a good idea to consult with a healthcare provider before making any changes to a senior's diet or introducing supplements. They can help to determine the best course of action based on the individual's specific needs and health status.

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About the Author

Ericka Nicolas

Writer & Researcher

Elder Guide LLC

Ericka Nicolas began her career in the banking industry where she learned the importance of being detail-oriented and well-organized, both of which she applies to her current work as a writer and proofreader. With her vast experience in writing, Ericka is able to produce well-researched and engaging content that appeals to Elderguide's target audience. She was able to provide readers with valuable insights on a variety of topics and ensures that all the information she provides is accurate and up-to-date. She takes the time to carefully study each topic given to her, which allows her to produce truly informative articles. Ericka's passion for writing and her dedication to producing quality content gave way to her goal of helping our readers navigate the complex world of senior living and make informed decisions about their future. Aside from her work at Elderguide, Ericka enjoys spending time with her newly-married husband and their dog, Yari. She loves cooking, traveling, and exploring new restaurants in her spare time.