Appetite Changes and Nutrition in Seniors

Appetite Changes and Nutrition in Seniors

Nutritional needs change throughout a person’s life. Later in life, seniors usually need fewer calories due to decreased physical activity and metabolism. However, many seniors suffer from appetite loss, and as a result, they have trouble meeting their caloric and nutritional needs. Families should monitor their senior loved ones for signs of weight and appetite changes, and consult the family physician if any red flags are raised.

Medical Causes of Appetite Changes

A sudden loss of appetite is cause for alarm. There may be an underlying medical reason for it, such as liver disease or kidney failure. Thyroid disorders, some cancers, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) are other possible causes. In many cases, the culprit is changes in oral health. Seniors who wear dentures may no longer want to eat often because their dentures might not fit properly. Family members should be sure to bring their senior loved ones to the dentist regularly and get dentures relined when needed. Another possible cause is psychological disorders, such as depression and anxiety. Depression is particularly common in seniors with dementia, including Alzheimer’s disease.

Non-Medical Causes of Appetite Loss

As people grow older, they tend to experience changes in the senses of taste and smell. These changes can make food seem less appetizing than it used to. Other seniors might have trouble finding the energy to prepare and eat meals, particularly if they live alone.

Strategies for Maintaining Good Nutrition

Although seniors need fewer calories, those calories should be nutrient-dense. It’s especially important for seniors to consume enough protein, fiber, calcium, and vitamins D and B12. The first step in stimulating someone’s appetite is to have a doctor treat any underlying medical conditions. Next, make sure your loved one has company while eating. It’s always more enjoyable to eat meals with someone else. Seniors with changing taste buds may find that more flavorful, colorful meals are more appetizing to them.

Life Care Center of Sierra Vista provides inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services, including 24-hour skilled nursing care. Their compassionate caregivers deliver personalized care plans to individuals facing complex medical issues. You can call their office in Sierra Vista, AZ at (520) 458-1050.