Loss Of Appetite When Aging

Loss Of Appetite When Aging

Many people experience a loss of appetite with age. This can make mealtime an unpleasant experience for some seniors who either struggle to eat or are experiencing a loss in appetite. The result of this can be a refusal to eat altogether. This is an important issue to address because nutritional eating can affect many other areas of our health.

It can be difficult to convince someone to eat if they are experiencing a loss of appetite. If someone isn’t eating, the first thing to do is find out if there is a health condition or medication side effect causing them to not want food. If you know someone who suddenly loses their appetite, it is important to discuss this with a doctor and get an appointment scheduled as soon as possible.

Illnesses That Can Cause A Loss Of Appetite

Some of the following illnesses can cause a change in taste and appetite:

  • Dementia
  • Parkinson’s
  • Thyroid disorders
  • Gum disease
  • Cancer
  • Salivary gland problems
  • Medication side effects

10 Reasons For Loss Of Appetite

While this is not an exhaustive list, below are ten of the most common reasons for a loss in appetitive.

1) Lack of Exercise

Regular exercise and physical activity can help increase appetite and the body’s desire for food.

2) Dehydration

Many seniors do not get enough fluids and become dehydrated. This can lead to having an aversion to food.

3) No Routine

Having a daily routine with scheduled meal times can help the internal clock of our body prepare for food regularly.

4) Difficulty Preparing Meals

Seniors who live independently might not be eating because preparing their own meals has become too difficult.

5) Changing Sense of Taste

As we age, our taste buds are less able to detect flavors and therefore food may become bland or unappetizing to them.

6) Difficulty Chewing, Swallowing, or Eating Independently

There are many reasons why eating becomes challenging. The next article will focus on adaptations for people who are having difficulty eating.

7) Sensitivity to or Loss of Smell

Hyper sensitivity to smells can cause someone to not want to eat.

8) Depression or Loneliness

Having no one to eat with can increase someone’s sense of loneliness.

9) Loss of Control

Sometimes, not being able to choose what to eat makes someone not want to eat at all.

10) Mealtimes Become Unpleasant

When we try to convince someone to eat that doesn’t have an appetite, it can become conflictual and mealtimes can become emotionally unpleasant.

Orchard at Athens team keeps hydration and healthy eating a TOP PRIORITY. You can learn more on our dining page.

Difficulty Eating: Common Causes & Recommendations To Improve


Some of the common causes that can lead to difficulty in eating are:

  • Normal aging
  • Dental problems
  • Medications
  • Medical treatments such as surgery
  • Stroke, Alzheimer’s, Dementia, Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s, other health conditions


There are a lot of different tips and tricks to make eating less difficult. Some of our recommendations to help are:

  • Have a regular meal and snack routine.
  • Do not wait for the person to tell you they hungry.
  • Serve smaller portions.
  • Give limited choices.
  • Don’t ask open ended questions like “What do you want to eat?”
  • Use adaptive utensils.
  • Offer finger foods.
  • Use smoothies, shakes, and protein powders to boost calories.
  • Add calories with healthy fat options like avocado, peanut butter, cheese, olive oils etc.
  • Offer easy to eat and easily accessible snacks.
  • Use favorite aromas to boost appetite (bacon, bread, cookies, garlic, chocolate).

Orchard at Athens teams are trained on how to help residents with their personal nutritional needs, as well as how to support residents with changing abilities so they can continue to engage socially with others during mealtime.  Meals are healthy AND delicious. Call now to schedule a visit.