January 4, 2023 by Dean Bellefeuille

Following the indulgence associated with the holiday season, many people choose to scale back on their calorie consumption. But when seniors refuse to eat altogether, or perhaps make unhealthy or unbalanced dietary choices, it is important to determine the cause associated with this behavior, and to recognize how to help them get on track with more nutritious eating.

What Causes Changes in an Older Adult’s Eating Behaviors?

There are several commons reasons that seniors may refuse to eat or begin making poor dietary choices – and methods you can use to help overcome them:

  • Loneliness. This is a common problem among senior loved ones and can make mealtime less enjoyable. Share meals whenever possible with a loved one who may be feeling lonely. Invite neighbors and friends to join them, or contact At Home Independent Living for a caregiving companion to help.
  • Issues with oral health. Speak with the dentist to determine if dentures need to be refitted or if there are any other dental concerns that should be addressed. You can also offer softer foods and/or cut them into smaller pieces. Lentils, ground meat, and beans, for example, are easier to chew than a steak or pork chop.
  • Loss of taste or smell. Aging in general often causes a dulling of these senses, which could impact the pleasure of eating. Try experimenting with more flavorful and aromatic spices and herbs when preparing meals, such as garlic, thyme, ginger, and cardamom.
  • Low vision. If the older adult is unable to see clearly, they may regard foods differently and lose interest in eating. Vision problems may also make it more difficult and even dangerous to prepare meals and certainly would make a trip to the grocery store more difficult. If low vision may be a concern for the older adult, offer to help with shopping and meal prep (or seek help from a trusted companion) and serve foods that are brightly colored and contrasted to the colors of serving dishes, place mats, the tablecloth, etc. so they are more easily visible.
  • Side effects from medications. Schedule an appointment with the physician for a full examination of all medications taken regularly, and find out if one or more may be contributing to a loss of appetite or troubling gastrointestinal effects. See if the medication can be changed to something more tolerable or if the dosage can be modified.

At Home Independent Living is here for older adults struggling to maintain a healthy diet, for whatever reason. Our team of professionals can partner with you and your family to support wellness at home by providing senior loved ones with the opportunity to enjoy meals, establish improved eating habits, and many more at-home services for seniors. Call us at (315) 579-HOME (4663) to learn more about options for home care in Geddes, NY and the surrounding areas.