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Spot the Signs of Loss of Appetite in Older Adults

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Is your loved one losing weight without an apparent reason? Maybe you’ve noticed fewer grocery shopping trips, a half empty pantry, or a loss of appetite? 

This can be indications that something may be wrong. It’s essential to discuss this with your loved one and intervene if necessary. Medical attention may also be required. 

The importance of a healthy diet for older adults 

As we grow older, the number of calories needed may change, especially if we are becoming less active. The right nutrients are required, regardless of age, to function at an optimum level. 

Food is fuel for our bodies and minds and can help prevent osteoporosis, high blood pressure, heart disease, type 2 diabetes and certain cancers. Maintaining a healthy appetite is key to aging well.  

Why older adults may lose their appetite 

There are several reasons for a loss of appetite in older adults. Below are a few of the more common ones. Review this list with your loved one to see if any might apply: 

  • Grief 

  • Stress 

  • Anxiety 

  • Depression 

  • Heart disease 

  • Hypothyroidism 

  • Chronic lung disease 

  • Neurological disorders 

  • Sleep disorders 

Source: Healthline 

Signs of a loss of appetite in older adults  

Becoming aware of common causes for older adults to lose their appetite can help you and your loved one identify possible solutions. 

1. Grief 

It’s not uncommon to experience a loss of appetite if there has been a loss such as a death,  as it’s a common effect of grief. Cooking for one can also prove to be a difficult adjustment. Your loved one may begin losing interest in food.  

2. Trouble chewing  

Loss of appetite in an older adult can also result from dental problems and difficulty in chewing. Eating only soft foods or drinking liquids won’t meet their dietary needs without supplements. Schedule a dentist appointment for an exam to ensure good oral health. 

3. Trouble swallowing 

Swallowing can become more difficult for some older adults. This may lead to avoiding meal times because of a fear of choking or the feeling that food will become stuck in their throat. 

4. Loss of smell and taste 

We  naturally begin to lose some of our sense of smell and taste as we grow older – two features that stimulate our appetite. Try adding color, texture and flavors to counter the loss of appetite in your older adult. 

5. Chronic illnesses 

Certain chronic conditions can make it more difficult to prepare food or eat. Illnesses can also decrease appetites. Talk to the medical team for suggestions on supplementing nutrients or alternative food services. 

6. Medication side effects 

Medications can change how food tastes or they can make your mouth dry, making it harder to eat or swallow. Loss of appetite for an older adult can easily follow. We rely on taste to stimulate our desire to eat.  

Source: medlineplus.gov 

How a senior living community can help seniors with their diet 

If you’re considering a senior living community for your loved one, you’ll discover the following advantages for stimulating appetites: 

1. Nutritious, delicious and appealing dining programs 

Senior living communities are knowledgeable in the nutrition needs of older adults and also how to prepare foods that are appealing to the eye as well as the palate.  

2. Fitness and social activities 

The more active we are, the better we can stimulate our appetites. Communities offer fitness centers, classes and activities to keep the body and mind engaged. 

3. Social interaction 

Being socially active and enjoying the camaraderie of others is also an appetite stimulator. In part, because it makes us feel better about ourselves but also because it’s enjoyable to share a meal with others. 

4. Experiencing increased self-worth 

Most residents in senior living notice increased feelings of independence and quality of life. They become more interested and engaged with those around them, often leading to a healthier outlook. 

5. Assistance to eat 

Your loved one may have been struggling not only with cooking but also to eat. Senior living communities provide assistance with eating, specially designed utensils and other solutions to make getting the right nutrients easier.    

Life at a Milestone Community 

If you’re looking at options for retirement living, we invite your family to visit one of our Milestone communities - designed to support your loved ones to live their highest quality of life. 

We offer studio and one-bedroom private apartments for our assisted living residents as well as private or shared memory care suites for those living with Alzheimer’s or dementia. We also offer studio, one and two-bedroom apartments in our independent living communities. 

Our memory care residents are cared for by our compassionate and specially trained team who meet them wherever they are in their journey with patience and kindness. The residents also have access to customized activities, programs and secured outdoor courtyard spaces. 

Our amenities and services encourage our residents in assisted living to engage with others, remain as independent as possible and be reassured that help is available whenever needed. 

In addition to our personalized services, we offer: 

  • Chef-prepared meals 

  • Full-service dining room and bistro/bar 

  • Clubroom with large screen and theater style seating 

  • Family gathering room 

  • Resident accessible chef’s kitchen garden 

  • Senior-inspired fitness center 

  • Hair and nail salon 

  • Resident-shared laundry rooms 

  • Elegantly designed common areas 

  • 24-hour on-duty care staff 

  • Scheduled transportation 

  • Secured community 

  • Direct access to adjoining walking paths and parks 

If your family is considering retirement living, we hope you will visit one of our communities. We are a trusted resource and are here to answer any questions. Please contact us with any questions you may have or to arrange a personal tour.