As many people age they begin to lose their appetites, they often don’t feel hungry. Part of this comes from the fact that as their activity level diminishes their caloric needs diminish as well. The other part of this is the fact that their taste buds don’t register flavors as well, so nothing tastes very good.
Good nutrition is still vitally important as we age, and finding ways to help provide that nutrition can be tricky. Knowing your loved one’s favorite dishes will help encourage them to eat, try adding additional seasoning (avoid using too much salt though). There are quite a few very flavorful seasonings that are salt free. Try adding dill weed to scrambled eggs or fish, thyme, basil or oregano are good options for meat. Tumeric or curry seasonings are also a good option for meats. Lemon pepper with a bit of butter can add a nice zing to vegetables.
In addition to adding some additional flavor to their food, use smaller portions. With my grandpa I would often use a larger plate with a smaller portion to make the portion appear to be even smaller. Cut meats into bite-sized portions prior to serving as a whole piece of meat seems like a lot, while the same amount cut up will seem just right.
It may also be a good idea to offer small snacks during the day as well, try 1/2 cup of yogurt, or cottage cheese. A couple of crackers with cheese or some fruit, or even a cookie – be creative and keep it under about 1/2 cup total volume.
Sometimes when you ask your loved one if they want to eat something or if they are hungry, they will say no. It is often best to place the food in front of them and let them eat. More often than not even if they’ve told you that they’re not hungry, they will eat everything you give them.
Along with good nutrition it is very important to stay hydrated. Drinking water throughout the day is vital for maintaining good health. Caffeinated beverages and sodas will cause dehydration, so while they are ok in moderation it is important to drink water. I found it helpful with Grandpa to have sports-style water bottles placed in the areas he tended to spend time in. Having the water there, available at all times means that they will tend to drink without thinking about it.