Help for Senior Eating Problems: Refusal to Eat

Home caretaker – man helping senior man
Senior eating problems, such as refusing to eat, are difficult to manage, but these tips can help.

Following the indulgence of the holiday season, many of us opt to scale back on calorie consumption. But when someone you love is experiencing senior eating problems, such as not wanting to eat altogether, or perhaps is making unhealthy or unbalanced dietary choices, it’s important to look for the reason associated with this behavior in order to know how to encourage them to get on track with healthier eating.

What Causes Changes in a Senior’s Eating Behaviors?

There are a number of key reasons a person may stop eating or start making unhealthy dietary choices – and ways you can help overcome them:

  • Complications with dental health. Check with the dentist to determine if dentures should be refitted or if perhaps there are any other dental concerns that need to be addressed. You can also provide foods that are softer and/or cut them into smaller pieces. Ground meat, lentils, and beans, for instance, are easier to chew than a pork chop or steak.
  • Loss of smell or taste. Aging in general frequently causes a dulling of these senses, which could impact the satisfaction of eating. Try experimenting with more aromatic and flavorful herbs and spices when preparing meals, for example, ginger, garlic, and thyme.
  • Low vision. If the person is unable to see clearly, they could perceive foods differently and lose interest in eating. Vision problems may also make it difficult and even dangerous to prepare meals as well as get out to pick up groceries. Offer to help with shopping and meal prep (or let us help!) and serve foods that are vibrantly colored and contrasted to the colors of serving dishes, place mats, the tablecloth, etc. so they are more easily seen.
  • Loneliness. This is a common problem among the elderly, and can make mealtime less enjoyable. Share meals whenever you can with a lonely senior family member, invite friends and neighbors to join them, or contact Serenity Home Care for a caregiving companion to help.
  • Side effects from medications. Schedule an appointment with the doctor for a full examination of all meds being taken, and find out if one or more may be contributing to a loss of appetite or bothersome gastrointestinal effects. See if the medication could be changed to something more tolerable or if perhaps the dosage can be adjusted.

Serenity Home Care, the top provider of senior care in Sidney and the surrounding areas, is here for older adults struggling to maintain a healthy diet, for whatever reason. We can partner with you to ensure all the bases are covered in providing older adults with every opportunity to once again enjoy meals and establish improved eating habits. Call us at 250-590-8098 to discover how our in-home care services for seniors can help.