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Tips to Stimulate Appetite in the Elderly

Appetite changes are a normal part of aging for most seniors. While a smaller appetite is expected, ensuring your senior loved ones get the nutrition they need to be happy and healthy is essential. If you need help, follow these tips to stimulate appetite in the elderly.

Tips to Stimulate Appetite in the Elderly

Of the many changes seniors have to navigate in their golden years, changes in appetite can be among the most challenging. There are many reasons seniors can find themselves eating less as they grow older, but it’s still essential to eat an adequate and balanced diet. If you’re having trouble with senior mealtimes, these tips to stimulate appetite in the elderly can help.

Ask a Doctor

Sometimes appetite changes are just a part of aging, but sometimes they’re caused by a more serious medical issue that needs attention. Before trying other strategies to improve your senior loved one’s nutrition, talk with their doctor about the changes you’ve noticed. Issues like medication side effects or dental problems that make eating difficult can and should be treated first.

Have a Regular Meal Schedule

One of the reasons seniors can struggle with their diets is that our bodies lose the ability to sense hunger as we grow older. You can help a senior loved one solve this problem by offering meals and snacks regularly every day. Even if your loved one isn’t feeling hungry, their bodies will get used to the routine, and mealtimes will become a habit.

Make Nutrition Easy

No matter how old you are, you’ve probably had a day when you didn’t want to eat. On days when cooking and dealing with food doesn’t sound like fun, the easier it is for somebody to eat, the better. For your senior loved ones, you can help them get the nutrition they need by tailoring mealtimes to their tastes:

  • Believe it or not, finger foods can be an excellent fit for seniors struggling with appetite. Taking forks and spoons out of the equation can make eating more manageable for those with arthritis or movement issues. Consider offering chicken nuggets, string cheese, and other handheld favorites.
  • Because seniors tend to eat smaller portions overall, having small amounts of high-nutrition foods available can be a great way to ensure they get what they need out of what they can eat. Offer foods like yogurt, hard-boiled eggs, peanut butter, and other options that pack a big nutritional punch in every bite!
  • If eating is challenging, liquid foods might be your new best friend. Smoothies, blended soups, and even store-bought protein shakes can help compensate for nutritional gaps in senior diets.

Keep a Food Journal

As with any diet change, a food journal can be a helpful way to keep track of what is working for your senior loved one. Keep track of what they eat, what times of day they eat it, and any other information that may be useful for diet planning. A food journal can also be helpful to share with their doctor for further meal-planning advice.


We hope these tips for stimulating senior appetite help you keep your senior loved one happy and healthy. And if you’re looking for a community where senior health is always a priority, we hope you’ll visit us at Hearthside Senior Living.

Are you looking for an assisted living community in Tennessee? Check out Hearthside Senior Living in Collierville and Bartlett. Our warm and inviting communities make it easy for seniors to embrace a healthy lifestyle with home-cooked and restaurant-style meals, exercise classes, and a nurse devoted to residents’ health and wellness. We would be happy to schedule a tour for you so that you can explore the community, speak with the Community Director, meet some of the residents, and ask any questions you might have. To learn more about our amenities and services, please call 901-266-3329 (Bartlett) or 901-854-6590 (Collierville). We look forward to meeting you!

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