A whole host of different changes take place within our bodies as we age and enter new phases of life, and these changes and evolutions come to affect our lives in diverse ways.
Behaviours concerning eating patterns and appetite are among the facets of life that often experience significant changes as we move into the senior years, and a great many seniors and those who care for them might find themselves noticing that a substantial decrease or total loss of appetite has taken place. It is important to make sure that a healthy diet filled with important vitamins, minerals, and nutrients is consumed at all ages in order to promote optimal health, but this is especially pertinent for seniors whose state of health is in a more vulnerable position because of all the features that come along with older age. Seniors should keep themselves aware of potential contributors to differences in appetite, and should be attentive to changes that may indicate more widespread health issues. By remaining observant and aware of changes taking place in their habits and behaviours, seniors can be proactive about meeting with healthcare professionals in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge in a timely manner to discuss issues with appetite as they come to light.
Why Appetite Changes
Individual circumstances determine how each senior will experience the varying changes that growing older creates, so it can be helpful to identify and make note of the contributors that are present in the case of each seniors’ life. Some of the elements that might lead to changes in eating patterns for seniors are as follows:
- Side-Effect of Medication
- Loss of Enthusiasm or Interest in Food (As a Result of Age Related Changes to Taste and Smell)
- Lack of Energy to Prepare Meals
- Depression or Other Mental Health Concerns
- Dental or Chewing Problems
- Other Health Conditions
Significant changes in appetite can also be symptoms of more widespread health concerns, such as:
- Thyroid Disorders
- Throat and Mouth Infections
- Some Cancers
- Salivary Gland Dysfunction
If you are worried or uneasy about significant changes in appetite, meet with a doctor to discuss worries and potential causes.
Promoting and Stimulating Appetite
While it is absolutely normal for some slight changes in appetite to take place as people grow older, a significant decline in appetite or large difference in eating habits can have an important impact on seniors’ health. Failing to eat a significant enough number of calories to offer ample fuel to the body, or failing to consume enough of the crucial nutrients required by the body can impact both physical and mental functioning in damaging ways. Healthy behaviours and lifestyle choices can be integrated into seniors’ lives to help promote better and more health-promoting eating habits for seniors.
- Plan: Some seniors don’t eat an ideal diet because they are unmotivated to prepare food for themselves alone. Putting arrangements into place that make cooking and preparing food simpler can help. Prepare food in advance, or arrange for someone to be there to offer help at meal times.
- Navigate Food Aversions: Fluctuations in senses of smell and taste that come along with medications or simply with age can make eating some foods unpleasant. Try exploring diverse options that are equally nutritious but are more appealing to eat.
- Make an Eating Schedule: Hunger signals are attached to habit in significant ways, so planning eating times for meals and snacks can, over a period of time, help promote more routine stimulation of appetite signals, making seniors more inclined to eat more often and, as a result, get in more nutrients and calories.
- Focus on Calorie and Nutrient Density: Instead of trying to motivate seniors consume large quantities of food to ensure they get sufficient amounts of what their bodies need, try opting for foods that are high in nutrients and dense in calories so that they can deliver all the benefits without needing to be consumed in large amounts.
- Eat Socially: It is discouraging for many seniors to have to eat meals alone, and this can sometimes lead them avoid eating all together. Making meals a social activity by engaging friends, family, or social groups in or outside of the home can motivate seniors to eat.
- Appetite Stimulants: If all else fails and consuming enough food and nutrients on a regular basis remains difficult, prescription appetite stimulants are available that might be able to help. Have seniors meet with a healthcare professional in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge to discuss whether these stimulants are a suitable option.
Some of the facts of growing older, such as reduced calorie requirements because of less physical activity, gastrointestinal changes that impact appetite, and changes in food preferences that come with differences in senses of smell and taste, are not always signs of ill-health, unless the impacts that they have become so significant that they start to prevent seniors from getting the nutrients they need to keep themselves healthy. More severe differences can, however, be damaging to the overall physical and mental health of seniors in numerous ways. Building a well-informed understanding concerning changes in diet and appetite, and keeping mindful of the difficulties that may come as a result, is important for determining whether these changes are just typical age-related adjustments, or whether they are indicative of more widespread issues that need to be attended to and addressed. Should concern arise, resources and support are available in Kitchener, Waterloo, Cambridge to help seniors and those who care for them attend to their needs and get on the right track.