Tricks to Stimulate Appetite in the Elderly

8 Best Tricks to Stimulate Appetite in the Elderly

As seniors age, experiencing a diminished appetite becomes a prevalent concern. Some underlying causes include decreased physical activity, chronic illness, poor dentition, social isolation, etc.

Seniors suffer consequences associated with poor appetite. It deprives them of vital nutrients, leading to weight loss, malnutrition and affects overall well-being. Other effects include anemia, increased risk of falls, frailty, declined immunity, and increased mortality.

This article explores various strategies that boost the appetite of the elderly, aiding you in sustaining proper nutrition and enhancing your overall quality of life.

Tricks to Stimulate Appetite in the Elderly

1. Adjust Portion Sizes

Serving large portions of meals can overwhelm seniors contributing to appetite loss. Choose to provide the elderly with frequent, small food portions throughout the day to meet his/her nutritional needs. For instance, instead of serving three large-portioned meals, serve six-small portioned meals daily.

Offer your older adult a well-balanced food, for each serving comprising vegetables, whole grains, fruits, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Reduce high-fiber food as it affects caloric intake and does not boost appetite. Remember, fiber offers health benefits to older adults, but you should take it in medium portions.

Also, offer seniors healthy snacks between meals like yogurt, nuts, or fruits to boost calorie intake.

2. Maintain a Meal Routine

As seniors age, their ability to feel hungry declines. You should, therefore, not wait for an older adult to ask for food, but instead establish a daily meal routine.

Serving food to older adults around the same time while maintaining specific meal types during particular servings prepares their bodies better to eat food at specific times, stimulating appetite. For example, if you serve breakfast at eight in the morning, you may want to stick to that time, every day.

3. Poor Dental Health

Poor dental health significantly impacts the ability of the aged, to chew and enjoy food. Regular dental care through routine dental check-ups and proper denture care helps maintain oral health and stimulate appetite among the elderly.

Encourage the aging adult to maintain an effective oral hygiene routine to prevent dental problems and promote oral health. Tooth brushing teeth at least twice per day, flossing, and use of mouthwash and antiseptic rinse.

Seniors boost their dental health through proper hydration by drinking enough water daily and boosting saliva production using sugar-free chewing gum or lozenges.

If the senior has difficulty chewing food, offer soft meals like tender meats, mashed or pureed food, or cooked vegetables. Also, provide them with drinkable meals and finger foods like waffles, strawberries, oranges, salmon patty, etc.

4. Nice Atmosphere

The ambiance of the dining area can significantly have an impact on the senior’s desire to eat. Create a conducive environment with good lighting, favorite music in the background, candle lighting especially for dinner, and also comfortable dining seats for seniors.

Depending on your senior’s preference, you can organize an outdoor breakfast so s/he can bask in the sun while enjoying some soothing sounds from the nearby birds.

Consider removing distractions like televisions so your senior can focus on food eating. You can also prepare the dining area with colorful utensils and tablecloths, making the food visually appealing.

5. Exercise


Seniors who don’t engage in any physical activity have fewer body energy requirements, leading to appetite loss. It is vital for seniors to engage in appropriate physical activities like walking, body stretches, yoga, etc., to help boost their appetite.

Regular exercise positively influences appetite by improving metabolic health, increasing lean muscle mass, and enhancing overall well-being. It contributes to more balanced appetite regulation, thus supporting healthy eating habits.

6. Enhanced Food Flavor and Texture

As we age, the sense of taste and smell diminishes and could contribute to appetite loss. Preparing tasteful and flavorful food can help stimulate the appetite among seniors. The aroma of the food prepares seniors’ taste buds for food eating. You may add some herbs, spices, and condiments to add flavor to dishes without excessive use of salt or sugar.

Cook using diverse techniques like grilling, sautéing, and roasting to enhance the taste and food texture. It will help you prepare various food textures: crunchy, soft, and smooth food, making meals enjoyable and appealing for seniors, hence appetizing.

See also: Entitled elderly parents

7. Specific Preference and dietary needs

Another way of stimulating appetite involves taking into account individual preferences and dietary restrictions.

Consult a nutritionist or dietitian to create personalized meals that consider the unique nutritional needs of the aged. Importantly, involve the seniors in meal planning or decision-making processes to empower them and increase their food engagement.

Additionally, accommodate dietary restrictions like low sodium, while ensuring the food remains tasteful and flavorful.

8. Social Dining

Social Dining

According to the BullSheet, when dining with others, humans tend to consume approximately 35% more food compared to, when they eat alone. This is also true for seniors. Encouraging social dining provides emotional support and helps stimulate appetite.

At home, encourage seniors to join other family members in dining together during meals. You can also organize regular family gatherings or communal meals where seniors can eat with loved ones or peers.

Alternatively, arrange outings to restaurants or community events to provide opportunities for social interaction during mealtime.

Joining a senior center or a meal delivery program also allows older adults to eat with others and foster a sense of community.

In Summary

Stimulating appetite in the elderly requires a multi-faceted approach involving physical, emotional, and social factors that help boost appetite.

From adjusting food portion sizes, promoting good oral health, social dining, creating a great ambiance for eating, having a meal schedule, enhancing food flavor and texture, exercising, and adapting meals to specific preferences and dietary needs.

The above tricks bring out the joy and excitement derived from meal times and foster a positive relationship with food as seniors age.

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