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How to Increase Appetite in Elderly

In order to improve appetite in the elderly visit your doctor and take your medication list with you. Drink a lot of water, serve smaller portions or drink meals. Check medication side effects if you have dry mouth. You should eat with others or make mealtimes a special occasion. For more on how to improve appetite check further advises.

There are many reasons why our appetite decreases as we become older. There are purely mechanical reasons such as ill-fitting dentures, or dental and gum problems. Alternatively, there are medical reasons such as illness, medication side effects, and depression.

Some people eat less because they think they can’t afford it, and some because they do less exercise and don’t need it. However, no matter what the reasons are, it is vital that everyone, including seniors, eat enough to provide their body with the required nutrients.

How to Improve Appetite in the Elderly?

Fix Oral Problems

The commonest reasons why seniors don’t eat properly is because they have problems with their teeth, gums or dentures. Visit your dentist for a check-up and ensure that these things get looked at.

Check Medication Side Effects

Every prescribed medication has a printed piece of paper listing possible side effects. Check your meds to see if ‘loss of appetite’ is on the list. See your doctor and ask whether there are some alternative meds you can take that don’t have the same side effects. Alternatively, your doctor might be able to suggest ways of overcoming your loss of appetite.

Health Conditions

Many short term health conditions cause loss of appetite. Colds and flu are typical examples and you can be sure that your appetite will return to normal when these diseases have run their course. Many more health problems such as constipation, upset stomach, and acid reflux also cause appetite problems and these can usually be sorted out by a visit to your pharmacy or doctor.

On top of this, there are more serious health conditions that only a qualified doctor will diagnose and treat. If your loss of appetite continues after your flu has gone or after your course of self-treatment, visit your doctor to see if there is any other cause.

Create a Routine

Your body becomes accustomed to eating at certain times of the day and expects food at those times.  Serve food at approximately the same time every day to establish a good routine. Seniors lose the ability to feel hunger as they get older so don’t rely on hunger pangs to tell you when to eat.

Eat with Others

Many seniors, especially those who live alone, often can’t be bothered to cook a proper meal for themselves. If this sounds like you, get together with a friend and share the cooking and preparation. Eating together is a joyful occasion and will make you look forward to the meal.

If you have several close friends, why not start a luncheon club and meet up once a month. Many seniors’ day-centers supply a good meal at a nominal cost. Go along to one, not only will you have a good meal, but you’ll also be able to chat with others in the same situation.

If you don’t feel the need to cook from scratch every day, why not cook in bulk, once a week. Divide the bulk meals into smaller portions and freeze. You can then reheat or microwave a ‘home-cooked’ meal whenever you want.

Serve Smaller Portions

Many seniors feel overwhelmed when faced with a large plateful of food. So, reduce the portion size and increase the nutrient quantity of the food.  Alternatively, you can change the daily meal-time routine from three large meals to four or five smaller meals. There are plenty of suggested diets for seniors online, or you can ask your doctor or nutritionist for a diet sheet.

Drink Plenty of Fluids

Many seniors forget that increasing their fluid intake is just as important as eating the right kind of food. Drink plenty of water, tea, coffee, milk, and fruit juice. There are many hot drinks to choose from including soups, malted drinks, and hot chocolate. Many of these contain food value as well as water.

Try Finger Foods

Many seniors experience a lack of coordination and strength when using a knife, fork, and spoon.  Try easily held foods. Perhaps, something like chicken nuggets, sandwiches, fruit, or fries. I’m sure you can think of many more. So, experiment and use the foods that work best.

Drink Meals

Many seniors find chewing difficult, and some medications such as chemotherapy alter the sense of taste, completely ruling out normal food. In cases like these, try a liquid meal. Soups aren’t the only drinking meals.

Some nutritious milkshakes and smoothies are delicious. Alternatively, your pharmacist stocks liquid meals that are similar to a milkshake but contain all the nutrients a person needs to stay healthy. Also, check protein drinks.

Try Cooking Different Meals

Eating the same meal, day in and day out induces boredom just like any other sensory experience. When food becomes boring, the experience is less pleasing and some people would rather go without. Try cooking different meals. They don’t have to be fancy meals or expensive. All they need is to have a variety of flavors to experience.

Consider Appetite Stimulants

Some people use appetite stimulants to increase their appetite. These are available on prescription only as they’re often not compatible with other medications the senior might be using. Talk to your doctor if you feel this option might work and see what is available.

Make Mealtimes a Special Occasion

Combine this method with other options on this list. Invite a few friends around for a meal. Use the best table linen and crockery. Dress up and make an effort with your appearance. Finish off the evening with a game of bridge or a board game. Many things can make a meal special, and what you do will depend on your preferences.

A Dry Mouth is a Problem

Many medications cause an uncomfortable dry mouth. This can result in a loss of appetite as saliva production is necessary when chewing food. Perhaps you can use a mouth rinse or chew sugarless gum to stimulate saliva. A slice of lemon or lime in sparkling water often gets the saliva glands working and you should find that a dry mouth is a thing of the past.

What’s next?

Many seniors and older adults experience a decrease in appetite. The regulation of appetite is complex. Hopefully, this article has provided some good ideas to improve your food intake.

You might also want to read how to Improve digestion. If you have low sodium levels read how to increase sodium levels. Those who have, constipation problems might want to read about laxatives.

Best & worst Foods to Eat to Reduce joint Pain

Some of the best foods to eat if you are facing joint pain are fatty fish, garlic, walnuts or olive oil. On the other hand, try to avoid Omega-6 fatty acids like red meat. If you asking yourself what to eat to reduce inflammation continue reading.

Although many of us have arthritis as we get older it is, in fact, a disease that can affect anyone of any age, gender or racial background. People who are lucky enough to be free of this disease don’t realize just how debilitating it can be.

Although there are different types of arthritis, the commonest is known as Osteoarthritis. This gradually develops in bone joints with over-use so it tends to affect people older than middle age. Another is rheumatoid arthritis, which is an autoimmune disease in which your joints are attacked by your immune system.

As you might expect, there are simple self-help measures you can use to help relieve the painful symptoms of osteoarthritis. The easiest of these is to watch what you eat.

All you have to do is avoid certain foods as much as you can, and increase your intake of other foodstuffs.

Some of the best foods to eat

Fatty Fish

Probably, one of the best foods to eat is fatty fish. Varieties such as salmon, sardines, mackerel, and trout are very high in omega-3 fatty acids. These have been shown to help with inflammation.

Even if you don’t like the taste of fish, you can buy omega-3 supplements in the form of fish-oil filled capsules. If you happen to have an intolerance to fish or are a vegetarian, you can also buy plant-based omega-3 capsules.

Oily fish and the various omega-3 supplements also have high levels of vitamin D which help with the symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis.

The American Heart Association recommends that you have fatty fish twice a week, or supplements every day to make full use of its anti-inflammatory properties.

Garlic

Many people already know that garlic helps our immune system to cope with heart disease and other chronic illnesses, but it also has anti-inflammatory properties that may help combat osteoarthritis symptoms.

RELATED: How to improve the immune system in the elderly

Ginger

This is another plant that may help ease arthritis symptoms. We all know of its zingy flavor used to enhance tea, soups, and confectionary, but if it does us good as well, there’s even more reason to include it in our diet. Eat fresh, dried or powdered ginger to help our bodies combat the symptoms of arthritis.

Broccoli

Broccoli and its other brassica relatives such as cabbage, cauliflower, spinach, and others are probably some of the best health-giving foodstuffs you can eat. Not only are they full of vitamins, minerals and edible fiber that our bodies need to be healthy, they also contain components such as sulforaphane which may have anti-inflammatory properties.

Walnuts

Walnuts are full of nutrients but also contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which as we saw earlier has a marked effect on arthritis symptoms as well as reducing inflammation.

Berries

Berries are full of all types of vitamins and minerals, but they are especially high in antioxidants, which decrease arthritis inflammation. There are many types of berries you can choose from to add to your diet. Common ones include strawberries, grapes, raspberries, blackberries, cranberries, and blueberries. It doesn’t matter which ones you choose, or how about having an assortment?

Olive Oil

This foodstuff is well known for its health-giving properties, but it also may have a beneficial effect on arthritis symptoms and reduce the progress of arthritis. You can either use it in cooking or make a simple salad dressing.

Foods to Avoid:

Processed Foods

As a general rule, prepackaged meals and snacks usually contain partially hydrogenated fats. These tend to trigger systemic inflammation and increase the likelihood of painful arthritis symptoms. They also contain high levels of salt, sugar, and preservatives which are also bad for arthritis.

Omega-6 Fatty Acids

Don’t confuse these with Omega-3 fatty acids. They are present in corn, peanuts, sunflower, and soya, as well as in most types of meat. Although Omega-6 is beneficial in small quantities, excessive consumption may trigger inflammation.

Sugar and Its Alternatives

Refined sugar and foods that contain it, such as confectionery, pastries, candy, soda, and fruit juices trigger the release of cytokine proteins in the body that cause inflammation. When you look at food labels, don’t only look out for sugar, watch for corn syrup, sucrose, fructose, and maltose.

This doesn’t mean that you can turn to sugar alternatives such as aspartame and sucralose. Some people are sensitive to these and may cause an inflammation response in the body. You’ll find these alternatives in diet sodas, sugar-free gum and candy, low-fat yogurt and similar sugar-free foodstuffs.

Red Meat and Fried Foods

Many types of meat are high in saturated fats which lead to high cholesterol and inflammation. Meat also contains ‘Advanced Glycation End Products’ which when subject to grilling, roasting, and frying stimulate inflammation. 

Other fried foods such as French fries and donuts also contain saturated fats and aggravate inflammation.

Refined Carbohydrates

Refined grains such as white flour and white rice, when made into white bread, pasta and crackers cause a spike in blood sugar. This often increases inflammation within the body. Stay with un-refined grains whenever you can.

Some grains also contain gluten which can cause sensitivity in certain people. People who are gluten intolerant suffer joint pain and inflammation which might either be confused with arthritis or aggravate existing arthritis symptoms.

Dairy Produce

Produce such as cheese, butter, full cream milk, and foodstuffs made from these are all high in saturated fats and advanced glycation end products.  

Both of which are inflammation triggers and should be consumed in moderation. Remember, however, that children need the calcium and proteins found in dairy products for proper muscle and bone growth.

Some foods such as fermented dairy products like Greek yogurt are anti-inflammatory so they’re beneficial for arthritis sufferers so long as they are not intolerant to cows milk.

Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol causes increased inflammation as well as the other, more well-known health problems such as heart disease, liver disease, diabetes, and others. However, there is evidence that moderate alcohol intake can be beneficial.

If you have arthritis inflammation, try removing alcohol from your diet completely for one or two months and see how you feel. You might be pleasantly surprised at the reduction in joint pain as well as finding that you sleep better.

What Does all this Mean to me?

Having read through the lists of good and bad foodstuffs, you probably think that you have to cut out all the fun foods to relieve yourself of arthritis inflammation. This isn’t necessarily the case. You may find that reducing one or two particular foods has more effect on inflammation than removing all those lovely comfort foods.

That’s not all, food is meant to be enjoyed and if you can reduce your overall intake of the ‘naughty’ foods, you might find that you can afford to treat yourself now and again without adversely affecting your arthritis symptoms too much.

What’s next?

You will find mobility aids helpful if you have joint pain and problems with moving around.

If you liked this content you should also check the nutritional requirements of an elderly person. If you have problems with an appetite you should check tips to increase appetite. For those who have digestion problems here is how to improve it.

What Are the Nutritional Needs of an Elderly Person?

Why is Nutrition Important for the Elderly?

Nutrition is important, regardless of your age. It provides energy and can help with your weight. It can also help avoid some diseases, such as high blood pressure, osteoporosis or heart disease.

As we get older we need less energy from our food, but we still require the same or more nutrients. So we have a dilemma. How can we reconcile the need for less food, while maintaining the nutrients? The solution is to eat ‘little and often’ and to eat more nutrient-rich foods.

Does Aging Affect your Nutritional Needs?

Yes! As we age, our metabolism slows down and we need less energy from our food. This means we need to eat less, by having smaller portions.

Our sense of hunger and thirst starts to deteriorate so seniors are less likely to eat enough anyway. As we get older, we find it harder to absorb and use many nutrients, so we actually require more nutrients in our food.

Many chronic medical conditions and medications given to elderly people affect the levels of required nutrients absorbed into the body. This is especially true of the B vitamins.

How Can the Elderly Improve Nutrition?

Rather than eating the traditional three meals a day, the elderly can improve nutrition by eating four or five smaller meals. Eating a balanced diet with plenty of leafy vegetables, whole grains and low-fat protein will help meet our bodies’ nutritional needs. If you find yourself lacking in a certain nutrient, make sure you take a supplement as well as eating fortified foods.

What are Important Nutrients for the Elderly?

A person’s energy intake depends on their height, weight, body type, muscle mass, level of physical activity and many other factors. Seniors tend to move around less and carry less muscle so they will naturally need fewer calories to maintain their energy level. However, they need as much or in some cases more of other essential nutrients.

Proteins

Seniors notice muscle loss and lack of strength as they get older. This is known as sarcopenia and starts after reaching 30 years old. After this age, the average person loses between 3 and 8% of their muscle mass every ten years. This muscle loss frequently causes weakness, bone fractures and poor health in general among seniors.

Eating more protein combined with more exercise helps to combat sarcopenia and the other health problems this causes. Low-fat protein such as fish, poultry, lean red meat, and beans are a great source of protein. Nutrition drinks are also an excellent way of adding more proteins to your body.

Calcium and Vitamin D

These two nutrients work hand in hand with each other to promote healthy bones. You need calcium to build and maintain healthy bones and you need vitamin D so your body can absorb calcium.

As we become older our bodies produce less vitamin D which means that we absorb less calcium from our food. This, therefore, results in brittle and low-density bones, making us more prone to fractures.

The solution to this problem is to increase our intake of calcium through supplements, dairy produce, dark green leafy vegetables, and vitamin D from oily fish, certain seeds and nuts.

Vitamin B12

We need this vitamin to make red blood cells and promote a healthy brain function. Usually, vitamin B12 comes into our body when we eat protein. All it needs is healthy stomach acid to digest and separate the two. Unfortunately, it’s very common for seniors to have reduced stomach acid. This leads to a deficiency of vitamin B12 as less is absorbed from their food.

Vitamin B12 is very common in animal-based foods such as meat, eggs, fish, and dairy. Therefore, those seniors who are vegetarian or vegan have an extra problem if they want to increase their vitamin B12 intake.

Vitamin B12 supplements and fortified foods contain the vitamin in its crystalline form and not bound to food proteins. This means that the vitamin is far easier to absorb. In extreme cases of vitamin B12 deficiency, your doctor will give you an injection inserting it directly into the bloodstream.

Fiber

Constipation is very common in seniors over 65 years old. This is because at this age people tend to move less and take more medications that have this as a side effect. High fiber foods help to reduce constipation as it passes through the digestive system undigested. It then forms the basis of a healthy stool and encourages regular bowel movements.

Diverticular disease is very common when a senior doesn’t eat enough fiber. This disease forms small pouches along the colon wall which subsequently become inflamed and infected.  Eating high fiber foods reduces diverticular disease and other bowel-related problems.

Don’t forget to drink plenty of water when increasing your fiber intake. In fact, increase your water intake anyway for a healthy body.

Potassium

Potassium is very important in your food as it is linked to a lower risk of many medical conditions prevalent among the elderly. The most common are high blood pressure, heart disease, kidney stones, and osteoporosis.

Magnesium

Lack of magnesium in the body is a direct result of low intake, use of certain medications and normal age-related changes within the gut.

Iron

Iron is very important in our diet as it helps produce red blood cells. Iron deficiency is very common in seniors and can cause anemia.

Omega-3

These fatty acids, present in oily fish and some seeds, will help reduce heart disease, blood pressure and increase brain function. All these conditions are common in the elderly and we should either increase our intake of omega-3 or take supplements.

Increase Water Intake

We’ve already mentioned this in passing concerning increasing our fiber intake. But, it really needs a section all to itself.

Our bodies contain about 60% water so the correct amount is invaluable for a healthy body and a well functioning brain. Furthermore, we are constantly losing water through sweat and urine so it needs to be constantly topped-up.

It is very common for seniors to lose the ability to detect if their bodies need water. Dehydration through lack of thirst indicators and faulty kidneys eventually leads to serious problems when the amount of fluid in our cells reduces. We lose the ability to absorb medicines, our body weakens and not only becomes fatigued but also reacts to increasingly worse medical conditions.

All it takes is to drink enough water every day. If you find drinking plain water difficult, try flavoring it with some fruit juice, or cordials. If that doesn’t work then increase your intake of tea, coffee or low-fat milk. In fact, you should drink at least 10 glasses of water a day even if you don’t feel thirsty.

What’s next?

Hopefully, this article provides you with some great ideas that you can implement immediately while improving your nutrition. If you liked this article you should also check how to increase appetite or tips for improving digestion. If you are facing low sodium blood levels, learn how you can help yourself to increase sodium levels.