As some people get older, they may start to lose their appetite. To a certain extent this is normal. However, it can be quite worrying if it begins to result in weight loss (it is important not to ignore this sign) and it can be challenging to manage this. So how can you help your parents or loved one eat more?
It is always useful to be on the look out for the side effects of medications because some, for instance antibiotics, can cause nausea and poor appetite. This is a more likely cause if you notice a more sudden change in their appetite. If you’re worried that medication is the cause of a low appetite it is a good idea to discuss alternative options with your doctor.
Routines in general can enable your parents to feel more comfortable as they become more familiar with what is happening and when. This is especially true for those who suffer from memory problems. It can therefore be useful to create a meal schedule, including times for snacks to help you parents feel more at ease. However, be sure to avoid scheduling anything too late as this may negatively affect their digestion and disturb their sleep.
Portion sizing is extremely important as you don’t want to overwhelm your parents with a huge plate of food. This may put them off eating anything. It is more effective to offer smaller portions and give more food later if they wish. This is both less daunting and again gives them more control at meal times.
Other noteworthy issues to check for include swallowing problems or poorly fitted dentures which may be causing your parents pain when they eat. Talk to your parents about why they aren’t eating as much as they used to and ask them how they are feeling in general when they think about meal times.
Dehydration is a common problem in older people. It can result in a number of difficulties such as dizziness on standing and fatigue. Furthermore, it can also suppress your appetite. Therefore, it is important to encourage and regularly check your parents are drinking enough water. Make sure to encourage them to have a glass of water with every meal and throughout the day.