As a person ages, it’s not uncommon for them to start losing their appetite for one reason or another. But when that senior lives alone, a loss of appetite can cause rapid weight loss that quickly places their freedom and independence at risk. If you’re currently caring for an aging in place elderly loved one who’s not interested in eating due to a loss of appetite, it can be frustrating trying to come up with healthy dishes that they’ll eat. To help ensure that your senior’s body gets the nutrition it needs, try these taste bud-tantalizing meal ideas.
Why Do Seniors Lose Their Appetite?
Here are several possible reasons why foods once enjoyed no longer appeal to a senior:
- Dentures. Ill-fitting dentures can cause gum discomfort that makes chewing painful. Have the dentist adjust your senior’s dentures or you may have to buy them a new set.
- Swallowing difficulties. Some seniors have a swallowing impairment that keeps them from eating like they should.
- Sensory changes. As the aging process continues, it’s not uncommon for a senior’s sense of taste and smell to change. As a result, foods once enjoyed are no longer appetizing.
- An Illness or disease. Certain types of illnesses and diseases can diminish appetite, like periodontal disease, cancer, thyroid abnormalities and Alzheimer’s.
- Medications. Some prescription medications can cause side effects including nausea and loss of appetite. Chemotherapy and radiation are notorious for turning patients off to food.
- Loneliness and depression. When an elderly person loses a spouse or becomes socially isolated for another reason, the resulting loneliness and depression can cause a diminished appetite.
Try these Nutritious Meal Ideas
When some of your senior’s favorite dishes no longer appeal to them, it’s time to try some new menu selections. Here are some tasty meal ideas to try that will also provide their body with the daily calories and nutrients it needs:
- Crockpot oatmeal
- Whole grain pancakes or waffles
- Hard-boiled eggs
- Greek yogurt parfaits
- Toast and peanut butter
- Pasta dishes that contain fish or chicken
- Salads with lots of fresh veggies
- Stir-fry dishes
- Rice and beans
- Liver and veggies
- Pasta with chicken or shrimp
- Salads containing veggies and chicken
When you’re in a hurry, a crock pot is a useful way to prepare several days’ worth of meals in advance with very little time involved. You can also cut up fresh fruit and veggies ahead of time and store them in the fridge for nutritious snacks. Make sure to serve your senior foods from the 4 essential food groups every day to keep their body strong and healthy. If you need some additional recipe ideas for nutritious meals, consult a registered dietician.
Consider a Meal Service
Notably when you live far away, another reliable option you have is arranging for a meal service to deliver some nutritious dishes right to your loved one’s door. These companies offer convenient online ordering and to-the-door deliveries:
- Netgrocer (www.grocer.net)
- Peapod (www.peapod.com)
- Meals on Wheels (www.mealsonwheelsamerica.org)
- Schwan’s (www.schwans.com)
When Solid Food is Not an Option
If your loved one deals with a swallowing impairment or chewing discomfort, try serving them a nutritious smoothie or milkshake that you make in the blender using ingredients like Greek yogurt, fresh fruit, milk, ice cream or protein powder. Or, buy them some ready-to-drink liquid nutrition supplements. A high-protein smoothie or shake has the same nutritional and caloric value as a small meal. Pureed foods, healthy broths and applesauce also work well when solid food isn’t an option.
Our In-Home Caregivers Prepare Nutritious Meals for Seniors
Trying to feed an aging in place senior with a loss of appetite can be challenging when you have your own household to manage or live far away. When you need a hand, contact Charter Home Health. As a fully licensed and insured home care agency, our highly trained and thoroughly screened caregivers can step in and provide your loved one with the food shopping and meal assistance they need so they can keep continue aging comfortably in place right where they want to be.
While there, our compassionate caregivers can also provide services like light housekeeping, personal hygiene, medication reminders, transportation and companionship. And, all our home care amenities can be individually combined within an affordable package when and where you need them! To learn more about Charter Home Health, or to schedule a FREE, in-home assessment for you or a senior loved one today, please call or visit us online today!