There are many reasons why adults may refuse to eat in their later years. Sometimes, your loved one may need simple changes to their routine, or a small push, to get their appetite back. If your loved one has been refusing to eat, have a look at this article for some dining tips that could help.
Before we jump in, however, you should rule out any serious health problems that your loved one may have. Health issues, side effects of medication or dental problems could be a reason for a decline in their appetite.
Implement Regular Schedules
Implementing a regular daily routine for meals and snacks can help your loved one’s body to “prepare” for mealtime. As we age, our ability to feel hunger declines, so it’s not usually a good idea for your loved one to eat only when they are hungry. Having a regular eating routine helps ensure that they are getting the necessary amount of nutrients a day.
Smaller Portions, High Nutrients
Your loved one may feel deterred and overwhelmed if they see large portions of food in front of them. Instead, serve smaller portions of high-nutrient meals, or switch to a daily routine where your loved one eats 5 smaller meals throughout the day instead of 3 large ones.
To boost the healthy calories they get in each meal, you can add peanuts and other nut butters, soft cheeses (mascarpone or ricotta), olive oil, eggs, finely-chopped meat and avocados.
Reduce Dependence on Utensils
If your loved one is suffering from joint or mobility issues, the frustration of being unable to use their utensils can deter them from eating. To help them out, you can serve foods that can be eaten without utensils. These include steamed vegetables, nuggets or chicken strips, fish sticks and meatballs. Alternatively, you could also look into adaptive utensils for your loved one’s use.
Keep a Stash of Easy-to-Eat Snacks
Some might prefer to have snacks throughout the day rather than have full meals. If this sounds like your loved one, you could try making a stash of easy-to-eat snacks available for them throughout the day. Ensure that their options are delicious and nutritious to encourage them to eat. You can try full-fat yogurt, dried fruit, peanut butter and crackers, string cheese, whole milk or chocolate milk.
Milkshakes and Smoothies
Your loved one might find chewing to be tiring or difficult, even with smaller pieces of food. If that is the case, try serving softer foods instead. These can include nutritious soups that have been enhanced with olive oil or cream, or pureed vegetables and meats. You could also make smoothies with fruits such as bananas, vegetables, and full-fat yogurt. Milkshakes are also a good option for the occasional decadent treat!
Make a note of what works for your loved one. What food do they enjoy, and what do they dislike? What do they have difficulty ingesting? What time of the day are they more willing to eat? Getting them to eat might require some experimentation, so keep at it!