What to do if your elderly loved one stops eating?
Are you the primary caregiver to an aging loved one? Have you noticed that they have stopped eating as much as they used to? Maybe they are only eating a piece of toast and cup of tea instead of full home cooked meals, well you are not alone!
According to Stats Canada, 34% of seniors living at home are at risk of not getting adequate nutrition. As we age, our bodies require fewer calories, yet we require more protein, calcium, B vitamins, and other nutrients.
Many seniors lose their appetites as they age for a number of different reasons. It can be distressing for the primary caregiver to see their loved one eating less, letting food spoil in the fridge, losing weight, or refusing to eat at all. Let’s dive into some of the causes of appetite loss in seniors and what you, as a caregiver, can do to help.
Causes for loss of appetite in seniors:
Normal Age Related Changes: As you age your metabolism naturally starts to slow, you start to notice changes in your taste and smell, and things that you used to enjoy you might not like as much. This can make it difficult to enjoy eating and keeping regular eating habits.
Limited Mobility: Adults with limited mobility may have difficulty accessing the right kinds of foods, and cooking healthy things for themselves.
Dental Problems: Adults with dental problems such as ill-fitting dentures, dry mouth, or difficulty chewing or swallowing will inherently cause issues eating.
Reduced Social Contact: People who are used to eating dinner with family or friends who find themselves suddenly eating alone start to experience a loss of interest in cooking and eating by themselves.
Depression: Grief, loneliness, failing health, lack of mobility and other factors might contribute to depression — causing loss of appetite.
Dementia or Dementia Related Illnesses: Those living with dementia can face memory issues which can result in forgetting to eat, not buying groceries, or irregular food habits.
What can you, as a caregiver, do to help?
As a caregiver it can be difficult to watch your loved one lose weight or experience difficulty eating. Below are some things that you can do to help:
Talk to their family doctor to see if there is anything that may be affecting their appetite such as medications.
Make meals smaller, and at the same time each day. This may train their bodies to be hungry at certain times.
Sit and have dinner with them, we can all use a little company.
If your loved one is on their own and are struggling to make their own meals but do not yet want homecare, you could look at getting them Meals on Wheels. Meals on Wheels supplies pre-made healthy lunch and dinner options which are easy to cook. For more information contact Meals on Wheels at (902) 429-4299, firstname.lastname@example.org or or https://halifaxmealsonwheels.ca/
If your loved ones are ready to take the steps to ensure a healthy retirement, Remember When Homecare can help. Whether it’s companionship during meal time, or allowing our certified caregivers to prepare everything you need (from grocery shopping to cooking), we are here to take the guess-work out and make some positive culinary choices!
Remember When Homecare