Getting seniors who have no appetite to eat can be a challenge.
There are many reasons why some older adults lose their appetite or refuse to eat.
But that doesn’t change the fact that you’re worried about them and are doing your best to give them the nutrition they need.
Sometimes simple changes can make a big difference. We share 6 suggestions for encouraging seniors who have lost their appetite to eat.
When trying these ideas, be patient, be creative, keep experimenting, and do your best not to get discouraged.
First, rule out serious health problems
If these issues aren’t causing the loss of appetite, your best bet is to experiment with different ways to get your older adult to eat.
6 ways to get seniors with no appetite to eat
1. Have a regular meal and snack schedule
Having a regular daily routine and serving food at roughly the same times every day helps their body be ready to eat at those times.
Don’t rely on your older adult’s ability to feel their hunger (it declines with age) before giving them food.
2. Serve smaller portions of high nutrient foods
Some people may feel overwhelmed if they see a large amount of food in front of them. Instead of a big plate, serve smaller portions.
Or, you could try switching to a daily routine where your older adult eats 5 small meals instead of 3 larger ones.
Boost the healthy calories in those smaller servings by adding:
- Finely chopped meat, cheese, egg
- Olive oil
- Peanut or other nut butters
- Soft cheeses like ricotta or mascarpone
To save time, you can still cook food in larger batches. Just store it in smaller individual containers so it’s easy to heat and serve.
3. Reduce the need for utensils
The frustration of not being able to use a spoon, fork, or knife could make some older adults not want to eat at all.
To help them eat more easily, try serving foods that can be eaten without utensils or trying adaptive utensils.
- Chicken strips or nuggets
- Fish sticks
- Steamed or raw veggies like carrots, broccoli, bell pepper strips, or cucumber pieces