Why Do Older Adults Lose Interest in Eating?

older adults lose interest in eatingHave you noticed that your loved one is losing interest in eating? There are many possible reasons for this, and determining the root cause can help you change things around for the better. It’s important for seniors to stay healthy and active, as this reduces the risk for certain diseases, certain cancers and cognitive decline.

One thing to mention is that you should rule out serious health conditions or medication side effects. Some diseases, like Alzheimer’s or Parkinson’s, can cause a person to lose interest in eating. There are also medications that decrease appetite and alter the taste buds. Talk to your doctor and rule out these potential causes.

Below are some of the most common reasons why older adults lose interest in eating and how to address them.

Depression or Loneliness

Eating is a social activity. People enjoy going to restaurants with their friends, cooking new dishes for family members and hosting cookouts for the neighbors. However, with aging comes new physical ailments and the loss of loved ones, which can lead to depression and loneliness. Also, when a person has no one to eat with, it further intensifies these feelings. Invite your loved one to dinner, visit them for lunch or hire a companion for meal times. 

Loss of Taste

As people age, their taste buds are less effective at detecting flavors, making foods taste boring and bland. Eating the right foods is important at any age, so try being more creative with your loved one’s meals. Some healthy, appetizing foods for seniors include fresh fruit smoothies, Greek yogurt topped with berries and nuts and scrambled eggs with veggies.

Lack of Exercise

Older adults tend to be less active, so they don’t burn as many calories throughout their days. Regular exercise boosts the appetite, so it’s possible that your loved one may need more activity to work up an appetite. There are many low-impact exercises that seniors can benefit from, such as swimming, yoga, walking, cycling and resistance band workouts.

Lack of Routine

Another thing that can cause a person to lose interest in cooking and eating is a lack of routine. If you stick to a regular regimen, the body will feel hungry at the appropriate times. Meals can be divided up into six small snacks or three larger dishes. However, you don’t need to focus on portion sizes. Instead, make sure your loved one gets the right nutrients. 

Difficulty Eating Independently

Certain medications, dental problems and health conditions can make it difficult for a person to chew and swallow their foods. Shift to palatable food options like puddings, soups, jellos, frozen yogurts and mashed potatoes. Hiring a home care service can help with this, or you can subscribe to a meal delivery service if your loved one can heat up their own foods.

Healthy eating is important at any age. For more information on senior nutrition, check out our videos on Healthy Aging.