When we get older our nutrition needs change. As our activity level begins to slow down, so does our metabolism. Because of this the body needs fewer calories and it’s normal for the appetite to decrease a little bit. A decrease in appetite can also be a sign of some dangerous health problems.
Some seniors may skip meals or make poor decisions when it comes to nutrition. There are many downsides to weight loss that stems from poor nutrition. It can make you more prone to illness like common colds and the flu. Fortunately there are plenty of tried and true ways to increase appetite.
The benefits of eating adequate amounts of food and maintaining proper nutrition are plentiful. People with good nutritional habits enjoy better cognitive functioning, higher energy levels and stronger immune systems than those who don’t. A senior with good eating habits is also more likely to live a longer, more active life.
Below are some healthy ways to encourage proper nutrition among senior citizens:
· Focus on nutrition first, not portion size. Larger portions or large varieties of different foods can be overwhelming. Instead try to focus on getting adequate nutrition by replacing ingredients with healthier counterparts. Try substituting junk food for a healthy snack. For example, instead of greasy potato chips, consider eating of raw walnuts as a snack.
· Set a schedule. When we deviate from typical eating schedules, it affects your appetite. Set a regular eating schedule so your body can get the most out of your meals. You may be surprised to see how well your body functions with a routine.
· Get social. Eating is a great chance to enjoy time with friends and loved ones. Eating alone can often decrease appetite. At many senior living communities, residents are urged to eat in dining rooms where they can socialize with others. This can help stimulate appetite as well as provide social interaction.
· Variety is the spice of life. Eating healthier doesn’t have to mean that you have to sacrifice taste. In fact it can be invigorating. If anything, finding tasty ways to eat healthy will expand your horizons as you explore different foods. Utilize recipes from all around the word and enhance your meals with herbs, spices, marinades and fresh ingredients.
· Don’t fill up on liquids before you eat. If you drink too much liquid before you start you may feel full and have less of an appetite.
It can be dangerous if an elderly person is eating very little. At times like these, it can help to open up their diet and include junk foods like cookies, cake or pie even if they are on restricted diets. This should only be done under the guidance of a doctor.
One way that clinicians stimulate appetite and weight gain is to add liquid supplements. Remember they are supplemental. Dietary supplements are not intended to replace meals, they are intended to fill nutritional gaps in your diet. One way to get extra calories is to eat a breakfast shake like Ensure. Those who don’t get enough sunlight may want to take vitamin D supplements.
If you can, speak with a nutritionist along with your doctor to help you come up with a complete diet plan. Typically you will be asked a series of questions to figure out your current eating pattern, the foods you like and any problems you may have.
There are lots of reasons why someone’s appetite may decrease. If you are worried about your friend or loved one’s appetite you can have them evaluated by a doctor to make sure that there are no serious underlying health issues causing the problem.
Seniors may face a number of difficulties when trying to find proper nutrition. Caregivers need to keep an eye on eating habits to ensure that seniors don’t experience any of the health problems that comes with poor nutrition.
Before you decide to take any course of action, only do so under the guidance of a professional. If you have any questions about diet, health or appetite – Total Home Health is here to help. We can get you connected with a licensed professional in your area to answer your concerns. Contact us today to get started on your journey to a healthier, more active life. `