It can be very difficult to convince your senior loved one to eat adequate meals. After ruling out medical conditions, medication side-effects, and dental problems as the cause, consider these tips for getting your loved one to consume more food:
5 ways to get seniors with no appetite to eat
1. Keep a regular meal and snack schedule With a relatively regular daily routine and consistent meal times every day, a senior's body can adapt to be more ready to eat at those times. Due to the natural process of aging, your loved one's ability to feel their hunger is less than it used to be. Thus, it best not to wait until they say they're hungry to serve them food.
2. Try serving small portions of high nutrient foods Some individuals feel overwhelmed if they see a large amount of food in front of them. Experiment with serving smaller portions and see if it results in your loved one consuming more. It may be concluded that the best choice is to switch to a daily routine where your older adult eats 5 small meals instead of 3 larger ones. Note that you can save time by still cooking food in larger batches but storing it in smaller individual containers that are easy to reheat.
3. Stop using utensils For some seniors, the frustration of not being able to use a spoon, fork, or knife could make meal time aggravating and stressful. Consider serving foods that can be eaten without any utensils to make it easier for your loved one. These foods include chicken strips or nuggets, fish sticks, steamed or raw veggies (carrots, broccoli, bell pepper strips, or cucumber pieces), and others.
4. Keep plenty of easy-to-eat snacks on hand For some seniors, it is preferable to snack throughout the day rather than eat full meals. As long as they still get enough nutrients, this is completely fine. Keep plenty of healthy, delicious, and easy-to-eat snacks available. Here are a few suggestions:
Cheese sticks or string cheese
Peanut butter and crackers
Cheese and crackers
Whole chocolate milk
5. Try serving milkshakes or smoothies Due to aging, some older adults struggle to chew even small pieces of food. For these individuals, it might be best to serve softer options like smoothies, milkshakes, and soups. Please note that this is not a solution for those with dysphagia (difficulty swallowing).
As you experiment with different foods and methods, keep track of what does and doesn't work so you can continue improving your process and your loved one's diet.