Why do older people lose their appetite?

According to statistics, 30% of people suffer from a lack of appetite after a certain age. Have you ever observed that a loved one suddenly does not feel like tasting his favorite food or forgets to eat during the day at all?

Changes in appetite can affect our loved ones in many ways. Imagine that the nutrients our bodies need are reduced? Thus, depending on the body, we lose weight or gain weight, and worse – our health deteriorates. Some studies claim that many of the diseases that affect the generation of “boomers” are the result of dietary factors and these factors worsen in the aging process.

Of course, the reasons for lack of appetite can be many and not necessarily related to an extremely disturbing disease.

The change in bodies

Almost every part of our body changes with age. Many of these changes occur as a result of what we eat and how much we eat. Research shows that “As older people’s ability to absorb and use nutrients becomes less efficient, their nutrient needs actually increase. “An important factor are also the hormonal changes that occur, especially during and after menopause – there are changes in smell, taste and vision which means that food no longer looks as “attractive” as we are accustomed to perceive our favorite meals.

Changes in lifestyle, emotions and social environment

We must not underestimate the influence of the environment, mood and social interactions. All of them can “strike” the appetite and food preferences of our loved ones. For example, many older people suffer from depression which is known to affect appetite in one way or another.

Also remember that food is a “social experience”. After the loss of a partner or family, eating alone does not bring the same pleasure from food. Other reflections of old age such as problems with swallowing, teeth, impaired taste and smell also hinder the desire for proper nutrition.

Chronic or acute diseases

Almost any acute illness, whether a cold or gastrointestinal problem can affect appetite. Chronic diseases can change food preferences in the long run. The most common chronic diseases among the elderly are diabetes, liver disease, back pain, heart disease, etc.

Medications affect appetite

We are sure that many of your elderly relatives are taking at least one type of medication to treat acute or chronic illnesses. Believe it or not, studies show that there are over 250 drugs whose side effects indicate that they can affect appetite, change the taste and smell of food. Therefore, it is very likely that there is at least one pill in their medicine cabinet that changes the preferences of your loved ones for food.

How can we change this and can we?

There comes a time when we ask ourselves how to help our elderly relatives eat healthily, even though they do not feel the need. Fortunately, there are many things we can do to compensate for changes in appetite and dietary preferences as we age. The first and perhaps most important is to know and notice these changes before they affect the weight or health of our loved ones. Here are some suggestions:

  • Improve the taste of food with lemon juice, vinegar, spices or herbs (while still limiting the harmful salt and sugar).
  • Add a greater variety of foods to each meal – experiment with colors, textures, temperatures (chilled to hot foods), a combination of vegetables and fruits and a type of protein whether vegan, chicken or fish.
  • Increase daily activity – it has been proven to increase appetite. Even 15-20 minutes of walking a day will help.
  • Eat more often with your elderly relatives. Even better if you cook together. As we said – food is a social experience.
  • Talk to a dentist about what you can do if chewing becomes difficult or you have a high sensitivity to hot/cold.
  • Increase water intake instead of sugar or diet drinks.
  • Last but not least – take out the beautiful plates. Make lunch or dinner a tempting, beautiful moment that makes you want to try.

It is extremely important to emphasize on the useful nutrients in the diet rather than the amount. Keep in mind that there is a difference between high-nutrient foods and high-calorie foods that saturate but usually do not have the necessary nutritional value. These are the so-called “Empty calories” such as jam, chips and alcoholic beverages.

Of course, nutrients are useful when taken in the right amounts. We should never overdo it, but we need to ensure a sufficient supply of some extremely important vitamins while in old age:

  • Vitamin B12 – helps brain function and maintains a healthy nervous and circulatory system.
  • Potassium – necessary for the health of the heart, nervous system and muscle strength.
  • Calcium – needed for healthy bones.
  • Magnesium – needed for most body systems.
  • Vitamin C – helps lower blood pressure, stimulates immunity.
  • Vitamin D – helps with hypertension, necessary for healthy bone growth and helps protect vision.

As Henry Ford puts it – “Everyone who keeps learning stays young”. With age, we are constantly learning how to accept the signs that our body gives us. Listen to them.Observe them in your loved ones and if there is something wrong, think about who you can turn to for help. At Blocks Adult Care we constantly monitor the condition of our residents, we are interested in their daily lives, hobbies and needs, so that they can live their 60s or 70s with dignity and carefree.

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