Appetite decrease is often considered a normal part of aging. Seniors have lower energy levels, reduced physical activity, and need fewer calories than a younger person. However, if your senior loved ones refuse to eat, it could be incredibly troublesome if extreme weight loss results. While a small percentage of weight loss may be normal, 10% weight loss or more could be a connection to a higher mortality rate. At that point, it may be helpful to have senior care help with their daily diet and meal schedules.
Loss of Appetite: Causes and Symptoms Involving Illnesses
Sometimes a result of serious illnesses could cause appetite loss or a physical or psychological issue. Also coming from temporary health factors, like infections or digestive issues, senior care can help manage appetite loss. Long-term or permanent health issues lead to appetite loss as well, including the late stages of serious medical conditions like cancer. Additionally, changes in the senses cause food to taste differently, medication side effects, problems with dentures, or even loneliness can all be loss of appetite causes.
Sometimes a serious illness or condition could remove all desire to eat for your senior, say they never feel hungry, or lead to unintentional weight loss. At this point, there may be a help to have senior care to improve a healthy diet and manage the foods that are in the house to help bring the appetite back to a healthy level.
What can you do to predict and prevent what some professionals call the “anorexia of aging”? First, become familiar with the many reasons older adults may lose their appetites. There are several physical and medical causes of this form of anorexia.
The medical reasons that could be causing appetite loss in the elderly include:
Thyroid disorders. Medications to treat thyroid issues and thyroid disorders are often associated with loss of appetite in the elderly.
Common viral or bacterial infections, such as flu or gastroenteritis, are often to blame for appetite loss. A person’s appetite usually returns when they start to recover.
Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. Throughout the progression of dementia, it’s common for both weight loss and appetite loss to occur.
Hepatitis or chronic liver disease. One of the first symptoms associated with hepatitis inflammation of the liver and chronic liver disease is loss of appetite.
Kidney failure. It’s common for up to 25% of chronic kidney disease patients to have reduced appetites as the main symptom.
Some cancers. In particular, ovarian, pancreatic, lung and stomach cancers are known to result in appetite loss. Plus, the pain, fatigue and other symptoms from cancer also lead to a decreased appetite.
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is an irreversible and progressive decline in the ability to breathe. COPD also causes changes in hormones that are associated with a loss of appetite.
Loss of appetite can also stem from the side effects of medications like antidepressants. Contact a doctor if you notice your loved one has a decreased appetite that seems more severe than in the past, or if he or she is losing weight without trying. Even help from senior care can keep communication with the doctor and other care to help make sure that doctor appointments are scheduled as needed.
Ways to Increase Your Senior’s Appetite
Stimulating appetite in your loved one can be accomplished by a meal together or encouraging your loved one to join others for a weekly lunch or dinner. This has been shown to motivate make healthier food choices. Additionally, your loved one’s tastes may be changing, so meals that are bright, colorful and full of vitamins and minerals can help. Small portions help, along with regularly scheduled meals.
Some of the ways this can be done include the smell of a favorite food or being offered a tasty treat to stimulate appetite and cause a person to eat even when they believe they don’t “need’ to. It can take a little work, but having senior care to help work with your loved one for regularly scheduled, healthy meals can increase the appetite and improve their health as well.
Are you or a loved one considering hiring a Caregiver in Benton, AR? First Choice Senior Care can help. Serving all of Little Rock and Central Arkansas. Please call and talk to our caring staff today. (501) 916-9307
Kayla believes in advocating for and educating seniors and their families on a variety of topics and issues that impact them.Reflecting on the need for an independent home care provider interested in quality over quantity, she chased her dream of building her own company that would make a significant difference in the lives of seniors, providing a much-needed service in her own local community.
Kayla holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Arkansas State University, is licensed by the state of Arkansas as a Long-Term Care Administrator, and is a Certified Senior Adviser.
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