The importance of proper nutrition cannot be overstated. It is vital for older adults looking to stay healthy and maintain their varying degrees of independence.
Making dietary changes is difficult. It can be especially overwhelming for older adults who are set in their ways and resistant to change. What can be done to encourage change?
· Incorporate changes slowly.
· Be mindful of medication side effects that by alter appetite.
· Plan to share meals as often as possible.
· Know the signs of constipation.
· Address signs of dysphagia or difficulty swallowing.
· Be sure dentures are in good repair and fit properly.
· Consider other dental issues like gum disease.
· Understand sudden or on-going weight loss as cause for concern.
Do not hesitate to consult a physician. Your doctor will help identify the underlying causes of loss of appetite, weight loss or malnutrition. He or she can test for a number of treatable culprits including ulcers, sinusitis, zinc deficiency, thyroid disease, dementia and depression. Doctors can also screen for loss of taste and smell which diminish at variable rates with aging. Taste and smell affect the desire to eat and impact thirst mechanisms.