Though many may not associate aging and appetite, the two do impact each other. As we age, changes to the physiology of the body, psychological functioning, social situations or lack thereof, medical conditions, and the use of certain medications can hinder appetite.
While the loss of appetite in older adults can be considered a natural part of aging, it can increase the risk of nutrient deficiencies, while decreasing immune system function.
You may be concerned about this trend and are seeking ways to increase appetite in a parent or loved one. Silver Comet Village, a retirement community in Powder Springs, Georgia, is sharing tips and tricks to combat the loss of appetite in older adults.
Schedule and Plan Meals
When we do not feel hungry, we do not eat. This cause and effect is why many seniors begin to experience unnecessary weight loss. Helping your loved one plan out their meals is a great way to combat the loss of appetite. Meal planning is beneficial because it will give your loved one a set time to eat every day. This can help trigger hunger as the body will begin to expect food at that time. If it doesn’t stimulate appetite, it can at least serve as a reminder that it is time to eat – whether he or she feels hungry or not.
Encourage Healthy Snacking
Snacking throughout the day may be easier for those with a decreased appetite instead of having to rely on large meals. However, aging can impact our taste buds, making some foods less appealing. If their snacks only consist of unhealthy choices, your loved one won’t gain the nutritional benefits their body requires.
If the senior in your life find snacks more alluring than a traditional meal, make sure they are making smart snack choices. Fruits and vegetables (fresh, frozen, or canned), yogurt, whole-grain crackers, or cereal are always good options!
Pack in Nutrients
One of the most significant issues with the loss of appetite in older adults is the impact it has on vitamin and nutrient intake. When preparing a meal for your loved one, be sure it provides the calories and vitamins necessary for healthy living.
We encourage you and your loved one to speak with a healthcare professional to assess your loved one’s diet. If he or she is deficient in any vitamins, it’s important to know so you can take the necessary steps to increase their intake.
Know the Importance of Breakfast
As they say, breakfast is the most important meal of the day. This statement is true for various reasons, one being that it can help boost our appetites throughout the day. While we sleep, our metabolism slows down, so we aren’t burning many calories. Waking up and eating breakfast helps jumpstart our metabolism, as well as providing a head start on consuming the nutrients our bodies need.
Reduce Fiber Intake
Though fiber is beneficial, it may attribute to the loss of appetite, as fiber can curb our appetite. Studies also prove that fiber makes us feel full for longer. However, fiber is still a component of a well-balanced diet, so removing it entirely is not the solution. We recommend that the senior in your life has a moderate amount of fiber in their diet.
Improving Appetite Through Exercise
Exercise is essential and beneficial no matter what stage of life we are in. As age and appetite are tied together, so are exercise and appetite. Lighter activities, such as walking, can boost our appetite, while more intense workouts may reduce it.
Silver Comet Village is conveniently located near the Silver Comet Trail, a historic trail that stretches over 61 miles, from Atlanta, Georgia, to our very own backyard in Powder Springs, Georgia. We encourage residents at our community to exercise by giving them easy access to a beautiful trail and by hosting physical activities on a frequent basis!