Not Hungry

While many older adults say they just don't have an appetite, there's no single cause for that complaint. As noted, sensory loss plays a role. Some have digestive problems that cause appetite loss. And medication or health problems also may be a cause. For some, the problem is psychological: loneliness, depression, or anxiety, among others.

Regardless, people who don't eat adequately increase their chances for poor nutrition and its negative consequences. To perk up a tired appetite:

  • Try to identify the problem. If certain foods cause heartburn or gas, find alternatives. Talk to your doctor about your medication; if it's the cause, something else might be prescribed.
  • Eat four to six smaller meals; keep portions small. You may take seconds if you're hungry for more. And smaller meals may be easier to digest.
  • Give yourself enough time to eat. Rushing through a meal can cause discomfort.
  • To get your digestive juices flowing, serve foods hot. Heat brings out the aroma of food, usually making it more enticing.
  • Make your overall meal look appealing. Food that's attractively arranged and served may help bring your appetite back!
  • If possible, increase your physical activity. That may promote a healthier appetite.
  • If you're confined to bed, ask someone to help keep your room pleasant. Remove bedpans and other unpleasant things. Enjoy a plant, and turn on some music!
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