Dealing with Loss of Appetite in an Aging Parent


When an elderly loved one loses their appetite, it can be a worrying time.  However, this is a normal thing to experience as people get older.  It could be a natural process, or it could be due to medication they may be taking.  Other possibilities could be lack of sleep or poorly fitting dentures causing pain; both can be remedied or advised upon.

It’s important not to worry.  If your loved one is getting the right vitamins and nutrients, then it matters not that they are eating less.  If you feel they are not getting the nutrients they need from their food and they are starting to show signs of illness, then it might be a good idea to mention it to their doctor.  In the meantime,there are some other things you can try.

Stimulating your Loved One’s Appetite

  • Make their favorite food. It is easier to eat something you like.  If your loved one expresses a preference for a certain type of food, then make sure they have access to plenty of it.  If they are unable to make it themselves, then make a batch of it and freeze easily reheated portions for use later.
  • Focus on nutrient dense foods. Eating right is more important than eating more.  Explain to your loved one the importance of getting the right vitamins and nutrients every day.  Fresh fruit and veg, whole grains, and lean meat are essentials.
  • Stick to a schedule. Regular mealtimes on a schedule can serve as a reminder to eat.  Ask them to log what they eat on the schedule, so everybody is aware.
  • Encourage healthy grazing. For those who prefer it, eating less and often is a good alternative to full meals.  Smoothies and nutritional supplement drinks are good alternatives for those that prefer them.
  • Offer companionship. Some people eat more if it’s a sociable thing.  If you aren’t available, then try to arrange for someone to be with your loved one at mealtimes.

Hopefully, you’ll find that one of the above options works for you, and you’ll find an appetite start to slowly return.  Don’t forget to let everybody know what works, including your loved one’s doctor, and if you are receiving home care in Tacoma, your caregiver, too.

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