Loss of appetite can lead to weight loss and poor nutrition among ageing adults. Read on to learn about top food ideas that increase appetite for elderly individuals!
Decreased appetite is common among elderly individuals. With weaker taste buds and sedentary routines, their bodies are less likely to signal the hunger response that prompts them to eat.
It is essential for your elderly loved ones to eat nutritious meals, get enough calories, and maintain a healthy and stable weight. In this guide, we talk about ways to stimulate appetite and we will outline the best appetite-increasing foods that senior adults can incorporate into their diets.
1. Common Causes of Decreased Appetite
Loss of appetite refers to the absence of hunger or a general disinterest in eating. When left untreated, a decreased appetite can lead to weight loss and fatigue.
Typically, loss of appetite has physical and/or psychological causes such as:
- Viral or bacterial infections (e.g. stomach flu, cold, food poisoning, etc.)
- Hormonal changes in the body
- New medication/s
Loss of appetite may also be a symptom of an underlying medical condition. Changes in eating habits are common among patients with thyroid disorders, hepatitis, dementia, or cancer. To better understand medical causes that could manifest with loss of appetite as a symptom, check out our article here. In general, if an elderly loved one suddenly has a reduced appetite, we highly recommend consulting a doctor for a professional diagnosis.
2. How Ageing Can Lead to Poor Appetite
Senior adults tend to eat less due to the natural decrease of taste buds and a reduced sense of smell. These changes make meals significantly less enjoyable, gradually leading to a disinterest in food.
Adults over the age of 60 also tend to have more sedentary lifestyles. This decline in physical activity means that their bodies do not use up as much energy, which in turn affects the amount of food they need daily.
In some cases, poor eating habits are the result of other medical conditions that older individuals are more prone to. For instance, elderly individuals may eat less due to poorly-fitted denture or pain while chewing or swallowing. Read our post on common oral and swallowing issues among elderlies to find out how this under-discussed issue can take eating pleasure away from your senior loved ones.
3. Best Foods for Elderly Individuals with No Appetite
To help elderly loved ones restore healthier eating habits, you can offer healthier versions of their favourite meals or new, exciting dishes. Here’s a list of tasty, nutrient-rich foods that can be incorporated into their diet to increase appetite.
- Avocado Toast with Egg
Avocados are rich in antioxidants, vitamins, and fibre. They also improve cardiovascular health. Pairing this fresh fruit with toast and egg results in a well-balanced meal full of essential macronutrients, especially protein and carbohydrates.
- Banana Pancakes
In comparison with other fruits, bananas are higher in calories, which is ideal for seniors with a decreased appetite. These pancakes can be topped with almond butter or berries for additional, flavourful calories that pack a tasty punch.
- Salmon Burrito
Salmon contains omega-3 fatty acids which improve cardiovascular health. Combining protein-rich foods with high-calorie foods like rice and flour tortillas creates a balance between good nutrition and adequate calories.
Fruits and vegetables are packed with nutrients and vitamins that senior adults need to maintain good health. Smoothies are easy to consume for elderly individuals, and they can easily help them reach their daily maintenance calories with little effort.
- Stovetop or Air-Popped Popcorn
As senior adults work on improving their appetite, you must avoid overwhelming them with big meals. Healthy snacks like stovetop or air-popped popcorn may encourage them to eat more frequently throughout the day and get the calories they need.
- Turkey Omelette with Rice
Turkey is an excellent source of protein and contains very little saturated fat, making it more nutritious than most red meats. When mixed with high-calorie food like rice, elderly loved ones with poor appetites can get important nutrients and maintain a healthy weight.
- Red Pepper and Tomato Soup with Croutons
High-calorie soups are great for ageing adults. Liquid calories are typically easier to consume and less likely to keep them full for long periods. The herbs and spices in this dish also enhance flavour, which may encourage them to eat more.
- Yoghurt Parfait
For a healthy dessert for elderly loved ones, consider yoghurt parfaits. Ingredients like fruits, granola, and chia seeds are mixed with a fresh cup of frozen yoghurt. Besides being an easy snack for elderly adults to eat, yoghurt provides a rich source of calcium and protein which can improve their muscle and bone health.
4. Setting a Regular Eating Schedule and Meal Plan
It is highly recommended for individuals with poor appetites to eat 5-6 small meals throughout the day. A regular eating schedule can help senior adults hit their meal targets and promote better digestion. Additionally, establishing a meal plan with a variety of dishes helps elderly loved ones look forward to eating – potentially stimulating their appetite.
5. Encourage Physical Activity
While exercise is generally recommended for its health benefits, not all types of exercise are beneficial to older persons. Existing medical conditions may limit the types of exercises an ageing individual can safely engage in, so it is important to consult a physician beforehand. Here are a few simple recommended exercises for elderly to stay active.
6. How Ninkatec can Help
Ninkatec is one of Singapore’s leading providers of home care services. We specialise in providing medical assistance and care for ageing individuals. This includes a wide range of services such as medical care for elderlies by doctors and geriatrics specialist, caregiving assistance, to free elderly care guide and resources to support your senior loved ones to age in place.
We offer custom care plans to suit the various care needs of seniors and their families, including:
- Right at Home – For elderly individuals who require regular routine medical support .
- Close Connect – For patients who need daily assistance due to chronic illness or more severe health complications.
- Virtual Care – For 24/7 virtual support and remote monitoring of elderly clients.
7. Improve Eating Habits with Ninkatec
Loss of appetite can lead to dramatic weight loss and malnutrition among senior adults. As immunity declines with age, consuming adequate and nutritious calories becomes increasingly important to safeguard one’s health. Scheduling an appointment with Ninkatec helps elderly loved ones receive the assistance and care they need to consistently sustain a healthy diet.