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What Are the Causes, and What Can You Do When Elderly Stop Eating?

We’ve seen numerous reasons why an older person’s appetite may be diminished. These can be linked to many psychological and physical changes that come with ageing. A lack of appetite is significant because it raises the risk of dietary inadequacies and weight loss, both of which are difficult to restore.

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When Elderly Stop Eating

Living and eating alone can lead to a loss of appetite, presumably because those who struggle with buying and cooking lack support and become less interested in cooking and eating.

Determination to eat to maintain their weight and health is a significant aspect of elderly people’s eating behaviour, helping to overcome any loss of appetite.

Establish Regular Eating Schedules

Because over a third of over-65s and more than half of over-75s live alone, this may have an impact on many older people’s appetites. Eating alone is also less satisfying, and persons who live alone have fewer social reminders to eat.

Due to changes in habit, location, social contact, and economics, retirement may change meal patterns and dietary choices.

Detecting appetite loss before nutritional and weight loss deficits emerge allows for early management, averting a decrease in health.


If you cannot identify a plausible cause for the change, examine alternative options, such as a medical problem.

Nutrition promotes quality of life, good health, and nutritional well-being is a primary predictor of effective ageing.

Eating disorders are frequent in the elderly and can result in sarcopenia, malnutrition, frailty, and poor health outcomes.

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Try to Encourage Social Meals

Seniors have lower energy levels and frequently engage in less physical activity; thus, they require fewer calories than younger people.

Reduced appetite, swallowing and chewing difficulties, changes in taste, and reduced ability to conduct daily activities are all examples of age-related changes.

It May Cause Health Problems

Even though malnutrition is a prevalent health issue, there is no general agreement on its assessment, diagnosis, and definition.

It’s vital to note that any loss of appetite in seniors could indicate more significant health problems. These won’t be remedied by increasing and more frequently consuming nutritional substances.

Once you’ve determined why your parent isn’t eating as much as they should, you can figure out how to get them back on track with healthy eating.

Replace Unhealthy Foods with Better Choices

Sticking to a balanced, healthy eating pattern can be influenced by various social factors, including physical, economic, socio-cultural, and/or political concerns.

One of the most critical physical and mental health factors is nutrition. It plays a vital role in healthy ageing.

As the population ages, eating disorders and malnutrition have become more of a public health concern.

When an Elderly Person Lacks an Appetite, What Should They Eat?

High-protein, high-calorie alternatives such as cheese and meat roll-ups, full-fat yoghurt, and peanut butter crackers should be included. Many older persons have difficulty chewing. Others simply prefer softer foods and liquids.

According to studies, a 10% drop in general body weight is associated with a greater death rate merely 6 months after the first weight loss.

Older folks require adequate nutrition to stay strong and healthy during their golden years and recover from and deal with any medical ailments they may encounter.

Many of us can sympathise with the sorrow of seeing an elderly loved one try to obtain appropriate nutrition throughout their golden years.

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Softer Foods Are Easier to Eat and Swallow

A lack of muscle strength in the mouth and throat delays swallowing and makes swallowing hard or dry solid foods difficult.

If your loved one’s lack of appetite appears to be related to digestive troubles, attempt to supplement their diet with fibre-rich foods like dates, prune juice and cereals.

Foods that are soft, moist, and sliced into tiny pieces are more straightforward to consume for persons suffering from oral discomfort.


Furthermore, many elderly people are taking at least one medicine, many of which produce nausea or affect their sense of taste and smell.

Similarly, consuming the same meals day after day might make them less enticing, causing people to consume less of them and lose their appetites.

Furthermore, changes in the senses cause food to taste differently. Pharmaceutical side effects, denture difficulties, and even loneliness can all be causes of lack of appetite.

Think About the Foods They Like

Reduced food intake results in decreased energy, making ordinary activities. These may include being sat on the edge of the bed, lifting one’s arms to change clothes, and having a brief conversation difficult.

Problems with dentures or teeth and gums can create discomfort or difficulty chewing or swallowing over time, making eating seem more bother than it’s worth.

Use Smaller Portions of Healthy Foods

However, suppose your senior continually refuses to eat or drastically limits food intake. In that case, this may result in weight loss, tiredness, and, in extreme cases, dehydration, which can be fatal.

In addition, some people notice a shift in their senses of vision, taste, and smell, which affects their pleasure of food.

Taste buds lose power as we age, which is why persons with dementia choose foods with a lot of flavour and sweetness.


We change with ageing; this might include decreased appetite and loss of lean body mass. Making it difficult for older persons to ingest enough food to retain their average body weight.

When people restrict their food options, consuming the diversity of nutrients required for good health becomes more challenging.

Maintain as many of your loved one’s former eating patterns as possible, together with the foods they prefer as well as the time and location of meals.

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The Food Being Served May Not Be Recognisable

Dementia may impair your loved one’s sense of time, causing them to mix up breakfast and dinner and making it challenging to eat the proper foods at the right time.

When dealing with a loss of appetite, it is preferable to plan meals rather than eat just available foods.

What Can You Do When Elderly Stop Eating?

The ageing process brings a slew of perceptual, physiological, and other changes that might result in diminished appetite in the elderly.

When aged people stop drinking and eating, their immune system weakens, putting them at risk for illnesses.

Loss of Appetite May Even Be a Sign of Something Else

However, if your senior loved one refuses to eat and develops excessive weight loss, you should be concerned.

The link between depression and appetite loss as a vegetative symptom in older persons is well-established. One of the most general reasons for weight loss in the elderly is depression.

One difficult situation is when your older relative starts to lose weight with little effort, loses appetite, and refuses to eat.

  • Several physical changes occur as you age that can reduce your appetite.
  • Usually, they are more at ease when they may eat and drink whenever they want.
  • A steady decline in appetite is commonly regarded as a distinctive aspect of ageing.
  • Diets and food instability among seniors might also lead to a decrease in food consumption.
  • A variety of tactics can be used to increase food consumption and to stimulate the appetite.
  • Perhaps your loved one has Alzheimer’s disease, then you may notice that they are always hungry.
  • Home care professionals can also tailor the menu to incorporate the older adult’s preferred foods.
  • You must determine the cause of your loved one’s appetite loss and devise solutions to the problems.

Mealtimes can be stressful for family caregivers. This is particularly true if their senior loved one has behavioural issues or impaired motor function, making chewing and swallowing difficult.

Consider gradually increasing your loved one’s fibre and fluid intake and encouraging them to participate in physical activity whenever they are able.

You might also urge your loved one to practice exercises to strengthen the jaw and mouth muscles, making eating simpler.

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Do They Eat More If Someone Helps with Meals?

Overall, giving proper support, such as encouragement, help with meals, emotional and domestic help, has been demonstrated to reduce the risk of poor calorie intake.

While many people appear to base their diets only on losing weight and preventing sickness, the nutrition issues faced are numerous when elderly stop eating.


Eating disorders are common in the elderly, and they can lead to sarcopenia, malnutrition, frailty, and poor health outcomes. Seniors have lower energy levels and participate in less physical activity than younger people, therefore they require fewer calories. Eating alone is also less pleasurable, because single people have less social cues to eat. Many older persons have difficulty eating due to a decrease of muscle strength in their lips and throat. Lack of appetite can be caused by a variety of factors, including pharmaceutical side effects, denture problems, and loneliness.

Reduced food consumption also leads to diminished energy, making everyday tasks more challenging. The ageing process causes a plethora of perceptual, physiological, and other changes that might lead to decreased appetite in the elderly. When seniors quit drinking and eating, their immune systems deteriorate, placing them at risk for sickness. Consider boosting their fibre and fluid intake, as well as encouraging them to engage in physical activity whenever possible.

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