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10 Reasons Why Seniors Lose Their Appetite

Health conditions that can cause loss of appetite and 10 reasons why someone wouldn’t want to eat

By Connie Chow, Founder at DailyCaring

Loss of appetite is common in seniors

Many older adults struggle during mealtimes or simply refuse to eat because they’ve lost their appetite.

This is an important issue to address because seniors need to eat well to stay as healthy and active as possible.

But how can you convince someone with no appetite to eat? And why do seniors lose their appetites in the first place?

To help you figure out why this happens, we explain what types of health conditions could cause a loss of appetite and share 10 reasons why someone wouldn’t want to eat.


First, rule out serious health conditions or medication side effects

If your older adult suddenly loses their appetite, it’s important to talk with their doctor. A check-up might be needed to rule out serious health conditions or medication side effects.

Some serious illnesses cause changes to taste and appetite, including:

  1. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease

  2. Thyroid disorders

  3. Cancer

  4. Mouth and throat infections or gum disease

  5. Salivary gland problems

Medication side effects like dry mouth or a metallic taste can change how food or water tastes, which can also cause a loss of appetite.

10 reasons for loss of appetite in seniors

If loss of appetite isn’t caused by a health or medication issue, here are 10 other reasons why someone might not want to eat.

1. Lack of exercise Regular exercise and activity helps boost appetite. Sometimes, seniors need to work up an appetite before they can eat.

2. Dehydration Being dehydrated can cause loss of appetite.

Many older adults don’t get enough fluids and become dehydrated more easily because of age-related changes or medications they’re taking.

3. Lack of routine Getting into a daily routine where meals are eaten around the same time every day can help their body feel ready to eat at those times.

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

5. Loss of taste With age, many people’s taste buds become less able to detect flavors. Normal food might be bland and unappetizing to them.

Advertisement 6. Difficulty chewing, swallowing, or eating independently

If eating has become too difficult or unpleasant, many older adults simply don’t want to eat.

These problems can be caused by:

  1. Normal aging (wear and tear on the body)

  2. Dental problems

  3. Medications

  4. Medical treatments like surgery

  5. Stroke, dementia, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s disease, or other health conditions

7. Sensitivity to smells Sometimes people develop a sensitivity to the smell of certain foods that can make them feel nauseated or unable to eat.

8. Depression or loneliness Depression affects 1 in 10 seniors and often causes loss of appetite.

Many older adults may also dislike mealtime because they have nobody to eat with and their loneliness gets intensified.

9. Loss of control When older adults are dependent on others for everything, they’ve lost control over how they want to live their lives.

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

10. Mealtimes are unpleasant If mealtimes have become a time for disagreements or arguments about their eating, seniors could associate food with unpleasantness and avoid it.

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Author: Connie Chow, founder at DailyCaring, was a hands-on caregiver for her grandmother for 20 years – until grandma was 101 years old! Connie has an MBA from the University of Southern California and has been featured on major news outlets, including WJCL22 Savannah (ABC), KRON4 San Francisco, NBC10 Philadelphia, 23ABC Bakersfield, KAGS Texas (NBC), and KVAL13 Oregon (CBS). She has spoken at Institute on Aging, written for Sixty and Me, and been quoted in top publications, including U.S. News & World Report, HuffPost, and Society of Senior Advisors.


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