How to stimulate a senior's appetite

Getting seniors who have no appetite to eat can be a challenge. This can be a factor of aging as lifestyle changes can cause a senior to lose their eating habits over time. Sometimes simple changes can make a significant difference.

Firstly, it is important to identify if there are any significant reasons as to why the senior has a loss of appetite. Make sure you identify if there is a significant problem such as mouth sores or a struggle to swallow due to ill-fitting dentures or dental problems. This will help identify if your loved one’s lack of appetite is due to a physical difficulty, factor of aging or some other health problem which should be reviewed by a health professional.                                                                                 

Here are some ways to help boost your loved one's appetite!

senior eating

Set a regular eating schedule

Seniors can be creatures of habit! It is important to identify what your loved ones like and dislikes are. Start slowly by introducing a small snack during a normal mealtime. This will then help stimulate the body’s hunger signals. Creating a routine to follow will allow your loved one to experience more regularity which you can then easily keep track of what they are eating daily.

Eating socially

Reduced appetite can be caused by loneliness. Eating alone on a regular basis may cause feelings of isolation and depression, so encouraging meals during time with family or a carer professional, can help. Eating in a group can lead to conversations as well as motivation to continue eating. If family are not available to visit your loved ones as much as you would like, you could try looking into social events such as senior centres or community centres that offer weekly dinners, or engage a carer to cook home cooked food, and sit with the senior while they eat.  This can encourage the habit of looking forward to a social event as a way of promoting the idea to eat!

Pick the right foods for a smaller plate

If the senior you care for is starting to lose their appetite, it is important to pick the right foods that will give them extra nutrients and calories throughout the day. A big plate of food can be intimidating for a senior - Instead, try smaller portions with higher nutrient value – these could include:

- Avocado

- Finely chopped meat

- Olive oil

- Peanut or other nut butters

- Eggs

Reduce utensils

In some cases, a senior may find it frustrating when they lose dexterity and become unable to hold or recognise cutlery, and to avoid embarrassment, they may begin to refuse food to mask this loss of function.  To overcome this, buy and serve food that can be eaten without having to use any utensils. Something that is manageable to eat with fingers such as fish sticks, sliced up vegetables, finger sandwiches or toast cut into manageable pieces. This will hopefully reduce the anxiety of managing to eat.

Serve easily chewable foods/Smoothies

Some foods can sometimes be difficult and tiring for seniors to chew. It is important to re-assess your meal option for them if you want them to revive their appetite. Give your loved one’s softer foods. If this is still hard for them, try a more liquid based diet by making smoothies with all the nutrition necessary. Some suggestions include:

- Nutritious soups

- Healthy smoothies – try to add bananas, fruit, full-fat yogurt, or veggies like carrots and spinach

- Milkshakes –ice cream can be a perfect was of getting your loved ones to get a high intake of calories.

To find out more about Home Instead Luton and Central Bedfordshire’s services that can help with meal preparation and serving food for your loved one - please call  

          01582 742275 or visit our website