Your senior needs food in order to keep herself as healthy as possible, but if her appetite has waned too much, she might not be eating enough. Why, though?
When your elderly family member isn’t drinking enough water, that affects every area of her life. She could also be dehydrated if she’s taking medications that act as a diuretic, removing water from her body. Many people can’t tell much difference between feeling hungry and feeling thirsty, but both of those urges can change as your senior grows older. Encouraging her to sip water throughout the day can help.
She’s Not Moving as Much
Something else that is a lot more connected than you or your senior might realize is movement and appetite. If your elderly family member isn’t moving nearly as much as she used to even a few months ago, her brain gets the message that she needs fewer calories and dials back her appetite. Moving even a little bit more, with her doctor’s approval, can help to stimulate your senior’s appetite.
Her Routines Are Off Kilter
If your elderly family member has gotten out of the practice of having a solid daily routine, she may have irregular mealtimes, irregular sleeping patterns, and more. When her brain and her body don’t know what time of day it is, they can get a little out of sync. Establishing more regular routines, starting with sleep and wake times, can help a lot.
She’s Having Trouble Smelling and Tasting
This problem isn’t usually one that you or your senior can do a lot about, but if her senses of smell and taste have changed, that can affect her appetite, too. You can try experimenting with recipes and flavors that may be more palatable for her changed senses, but that can feel complicated. Using new spices, herbs, and bumping up favorite flavors can sometimes help.
Meals Are Psychologically Uncomfortable
There are a lot of people who become extremely uncomfortable when they spend too much time alone. If that’s the case for your senior, she may feel lonely and even depressed when she tries to eat alone. Eventually, she may start avoiding meals as often as she can, simply because meals are so psychologically uncomfortable. Talk with your senior about how you can address that for her, whether that means stopping by to have meals with her or even calling her during meals and “eating together.”
Having a little bit of extra help around can make some of these situations stop being a factor. Consider bringing in a caregiver to help your elderly family member to get back to eating a healthy diet on a regular basis.