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How to Increase Appetite in Seniors

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A group of seniors sitting around a table, eating and enjoying afternoon tea and cake, while smiling and chatting with each other.

As people age, their bodies go through many different changes, and this can lead to a decline in their appetite. However, it’s essential to make sure your senior loved ones are getting the nutrients and vitamins they need to maintain a high quality of life, so you may be wondering: how can you increase the appetite of a senior?

There are many ways to increase appetite in the elderly, such as:

  • Create a comfortable environment
  • Offer different options
  • Optimize your presentation
  • Make eating a social experience
  • Promote a healthy, active lifestyle
  • Research if medication may be causing appetite concerns

By taking active steps to stimulate their appetite and communicating that you care about their health, you can help improve the appetite of a senior in your life and help them maintain a high quality of life.

Create a Comfortable Eating Environment

To stimulate a senior’s appetite, it helps to start with the environment itself. The physical environment plays a big part in all aspects of a person’s life, so it helps to make the dining area pleasant to be in. Ensure the area is clean, well-maintained, and has adequate lighting. If you want to take the extra step, you can consider comfortable chairs or even soft music in the background.

By making the eating environment a pleasant area to be in, your loved one can associate eating with comfort, making it more likely for them to want to spend time eating there.

Offer Different Nutrient-Rich Options

It helps to provide a variety of healthy options if your loved one’s appetite has declined. This way, you can be sure that they’re receiving the nutrients needed to remain healthy and retain a high quality of life. Try incorporating some of the following into meals:

  • Lean proteins
  • Whole grains
  • Fruits
  • Vegetables
  • Healthy fats

By preparing healthy meals, you can feel more comfortable knowing your loved one has access to healthy and nutrient-rich options.

It also helps to promote light snacking throughout the day, as this can help boost a person’s metabolism. After eating, the metabolism becomes more active for a period of time, which may make your loved one more inclined to take part in eating larger, healthier meals later in the day.

Optimize Your Presentation

Sometimes, presentation is key. By taking the active step to make meals more appealing to all the senses, you may be able to cause your loved one to be more inclined to join in for meals. Try utilizing:

  • Different colored foods to stimulate the visual appeal
  • Garnishes to create a different look or style for the food
  • Different spices to enhance the smell and taste of the meal

It can be beneficial to offer different portion sizes appropriate to your loved one’s needs. Sometimes, a massive meal can be overwhelming, so try breaking it down across several portions or courses to make it easier to process. Presenting meals in a visually pleasing manner can increase their anticipation for the meal, making it more enjoyable!

Make Eating a Social Experience

Food is most often best when shared with others, so it can be beneficial to make meals a social experience. Eating with friends or family can make the meal more stimulating and interesting and gives you different ideas or ways to prepare or combine foods to make them better!

Try inviting people over to visit for dinner. If your loved one lives in a senior living community, encourage them to participate in a communal dining program. The presence of others around you while eating can make it a pleasant experience and get your loved one excited to join others for a good meal.

A group of seniors  sitting around a table, eating and having a sandwich and tea, while smiling  and looking directly at the camera.

Promote a Healthy Lifestyle

Regular exercise is one of the best ways to boost a person’s appetite—and their overall health as well. Exercise can boost a person’s metabolism and stimulate their appetite, which can make it much easier to get excited about a meal. It helps to encourage light exercises during the day, especially before meals. 

Light exercise or physical activities before a meal can improve blood flow and digestion, which is an excellent way to boost a senior’s appetite.

Research the Medical Side of Things

Sometimes, a decline in appetite may not be entirely age-related. If your loved one is using certain medications every day, it can be beneficial to talk to a healthcare professional to see if their medicine may be causing side effects like appetite problems. If it is, it may be a good idea to consult with them about potential solutions so your loved one can still get the nutrition they need.

However, it’s important to note that if your loved one experiences a sudden decline in appetite, they should visit a healthcare professional to determine if there may be a more serious condition developing. It’s important to seek the advice of a trained professional so your loved one can maintain their overall health.

The Importance of Nutrition for Seniors

The importance of nutrition can’t be overstated—your loved one needs food so they can maintain their health and keep a high quality of life. While a decline in appetite can be frustrating to witness, there are solutions available to stimulate a person’s appetite and promote a healthy lifestyle. 

At Crescent Fields at Huntingdon Valley, we understand the importance of nutrition. If your loved one is in need of a community that encourages proper nutrition and healthy living, schedule a visit with us today!

Written by Crescent Fields

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