Dealing with Loss of Appetite in an Aging Parent
One of the most natural elements of older age is that we eat less. This can be a hard concept for the children of parents to swallow, not least because their own insatiable appetite is often burning away as brightly as ever.
In reality, there are a number of factors that lead to a loss of appetite, many of which can’t be treated by any medicine or exercise. The lining of the stomach, for example, naturally loses its elasticity over time, making it unable to stretch to fit as much food in as it once would have. The taste of food also starts to diminish, once we reach the age of 60, thanks to the number of taste buds found in our mouth dropping by more than two-thirds. There’s also the fact that, as we age, we also tend to live more sedentary lifestyles, which in effect, means our bodies need fewer calories to function in the first place.
So, a loss of appetite is nothing to worry about, right? Well, not necessarily. If your aging parent loses more than 5% of their body weight over the course of 12 months, there could be cause for concern. Life-threatening conditions, such as cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, can cause a marked loss of appetite over a short period of time, so in a situation such as this, it’s always better to be cautious and to take your loved one to a doctor for a checkup.
John and Kristine Lajeunesse, owners of the in-home care provider, Always Best Care, are responsible for ensuring all seniors in their care take on enough nutrition over the course of 24 hours to stay healthy. They’ve been kind enough to share three of the ways they encourage their seniors in home care in Manchester to eat more.
To allow the stomach to send hunger signals to the brain at the correct time of day, make sure your loved one is served meals at set times each day.
One way to make sure a senior’s body has access to enough nutrients, even if they aren’t eating much, is to serve foods rich in minerals and vitamins. Regular meals that contain vegetables, fruits, fish, or nuts are a great place to start.
Even if a senior lives on their own, that doesn’t mean they should eat on their own. Being around others while eating, whether in a restaurant or a local senior center, helps them to make meal times something they look forward to, rather than dread.