How to Increase Your Appetite as a Senior

Apr 21, 2023

As we age, our appetite often decreases, leaving us with little or no desire to eat. However, seniors need a balanced and nutritious diet to maintain their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. 

However, proper nutrition is crucial to overall well-being, so finding ways to increase appetite is important. 

Seniors can boost their appetite and enjoy food again by exercising regularly, having a set routine, eating nutrient-dense foods, having social meals, using natural flavor enhancers, and using appetite stimulants.

Learn more about the causes of reduced appetite in seniors and some easy tips and tricks to help you increase your appetite and enjoy a healthy diet.

Causes of Reduced Appetite in Seniors

As people age, their bodies undergo many changes, including changes in their appetite. Seniors often experience a reduced appetite leading to malnutrition and other health complications. While a decreased appetite is relatively common in older adults, it can concern their loved ones and caregivers.

Changes to the Physiology of the Older Body

One of the leading causes of reduced appetite in seniors is changes to the digestive system. As you age, your body produces fewer digestive enzymes, which makes it harder for your body to break down food.

It can lead to a feeling of fullness, and seniors may not feel as hungry as they used to. Additionally, older adults may have difficulty swallowing food or experience a decreased sense of taste or smell, which can also impact their desire to eat.

Changes in Psychological Functioning

Mental health also plays a role in appetite regulation. As seniors age, they may experience mental and emotional stressors such as depression, anxiety, or grief. These feelings can dampen their appetite as they find less enjoyment in eating or lose interest in food.

Sometimes, depression or other psychological disorders may also impact an older adult’s appetite, leading to weight loss and malnutrition.

Changes in Social Circumstances

Social isolation is a common issue among seniors. Living alone can lead to loneliness and depression, impacting their appetite.

Additionally, older adults may need help to shop for groceries or cook meals for themselves, leading to a lack of access to healthy, fresh foods.

Acute Illness & Chronic Diseases

Illnesses such as pneumonia or urinary tract infections can cause a loss of appetite in anyone, but they can be especially detrimental to older adults.

Seniors may not have the same immune system as younger individuals, making them more susceptible to illnesses that can weaken their bodies and reduce their appetite. Chronic diseases such as cancer, arthritis, or kidney disease can also impact appetite, affecting the body’s ability to absorb nutrients.

Use of Medication

Finally, many medications prescribed to seniors for different diseases can impact their appetite. Some medications can decrease or even eliminate an older adult’s hunger. Other medications may cause nausea, vomiting, or other gastrointestinal symptoms that can make it challenging to eat regularly.

A group of seniors exercising together under the supervision of trained staff.

Ways to Increase Your Appetite as a Senior

Maintaining a healthy, balanced diet is essential to boost your energy levels and support your well-being. Let’s look at some ways to increase your appetite as a senior.

Exercise Regularly

Staying active is crucial to maintaining healthy digestion and stimulating the appetite. Light exercise can boost your appetite by increasing blood flow to your digestive organs.

Set a Routine

Try to eat your meals at a consistent time each day, as this helps regulate your digestive system, making it easier to get hungry before mealtime.

Routines also make it easier to remember to eat, so you’re less likely to miss meals unintentionally.

Include Nutrient-Dense Foods

When every bite counts, you must ensure you get the most from your meals.

Nutrient-dense foods provide a high amount of nutrients for relatively few calories. Examples include fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.

Use Natural Flavor Enhancers

As we age, our taste buds start to dull, making food tasteless and unappetizing. Therefore, it’s time to start getting creative in the kitchen.

Try adding natural flavor enhancers to your food to make it more appealing. Using spices like cinnamon, turmeric, and chili flakes, or adding herbs like parsley, basil, or cilantro to your food can do wonders to increase your enjoyment.

Have Social Meals

Eating alone can reduce appetite for individuals of any age, not just seniors.

Eating with others can be enjoyable and help you stay motivated to eat. You can plan meals with family, friends, or neighbors or join local meal programs or senior citizens’ groups.

Consider Appetite Stimulants

If you’re still struggling to eat well despite these lifestyle changes, asking your doctor about appetite-stimulating options might be helpful.

These could include medications, herbals, or supplements designed to increase hunger and help you eat more. However, it’s essential to be cautious when taking supplements or medications, and it’s best to take them after consulting with your doctor.

Enjoy Good Food and Increase Your Appetite with Chestnut Ridge Wallingford Senior Living

As a senior, there are many ways to increase your appetite, improve your quality of life, and enjoy food again.

At Chestnut Ridge Wallingford Senior Living, we create nutritious and delicious meals crafted with fresh ingredients catering to all tastes and dietary requirements.

We also offer a bistro for a more casual dining experience, a sizeable restaurant-style dining room for larger groups, or special occasions in our private dining area!You’ll feel like you’re among family in our great community. Visit us for a tour today!