11 Tips to Encourage Eating in Elderly People With No Appetite

A decreased appetite is common among the older generation. Taste buds decrease with age and retirement often brings about more sedentary routines. This results in hunger signals becoming reduced so there’s less desire for food.

It is essential for your elderly loved ones to eat nutritious meals. They need to be getting enough calories in order to maintain a healthy and stable weight. Eating the right food allows the body to perform at its best, fight ageing, fight disease and boost immunity. It also promotes health and wellness by giving us all the vitamins and minerals needed to function effectively.

Here we will offer some tips on how to encourage your elderly loved ones to eat if they have no appetite. Sometimes simple changes can make a big difference.

Where to start

It can be difficult to encourage elderly people to eat when they don’t feel like it. We worry about them and worry they’re not getting the nutrition they need.

First, rule out any serious health problems, dental problems or medication side effects by getting them checked by a doctor and dentist. Once you are reassured that a health problem isn’t causing their loss of appetite, you can confidently start experimenting with different ways to entice them. There are various ways to increase and stimulate someone’s appetite – but it can be a challenge. Try not to be discouraged and try these ideas.

11 tips to increase and stimulate appetite in your elderly loved one

  1. Create a routine for meals – having regular mealtimes as well as similar food at the same mealtime can help. Expecting certain foods at certain times of day, such as porridge at 8am, can help an elderly person feel ready for that meal.
  2. Make eating a social event. Eating with others makes it enjoyable and can distract from the lack of appetite. In addition, eating with company, who are also eating, makes it more likely that more food will be eaten.
  3. Make a nice atmosphere for the meal, so it’s a pleasurable experience. Maybe some music and candles in the evening. Or breakfast outdoors in the sun with the birds singing on a summer morning.
  4. Give choice and control wherever possible. Sometimes actually choosing whether to eat can be one of their last few remaining acts of independence.
  5. Is dry mouth causing a problem? Certain medical conditions or medications can cause dry mouth. If this has been ruled out, consider if dehydration is a factor or eliminating tobacco and caffeine.
  6. Offer finger foods. They can be nutritious, easy to cook and easy to eat (no table required), as well as making little mess and requiring almost no cleanup.
  7. Encourage snacks whenever hunger strikes. There’s no need to try and preserve appetite until the next mealtime – it may have passed by then. For some people, little and often can be better than larger meals less often.
  8. Offer high-calorie food such as nuts, avocado, olive oil as a dressing and full-fat dairy. This helps to ensure that the most calories possible are consumed, even in small meals.
  9. Consider drinkable meals, especially in cases where appetite is very reduced. Smoothies can be packed with all sorts of nutritious ingredients including fruit vegetables, carbohydrates, and fats.
  10. ! A little tipple or two has been known to increase appetite so providing there are no health concerns, give it a try.
  11. Keep a food diary. This allows you to keep a record of what they like and dislike, as well as what times they ate the most. Then you can replicate it!

The most important thing is to be patient. Keep experimenting and don’t get discouraged.