Date: March 30, 2023

Author: Jeremy Rodriguez


Getting someone to eat when they do not want to can be very challenging, but it’s important to keep trying. Losing their appetite and not eating, as a result, can deprive seniors of important nutrients. However, there are some ways to help increase appetite in the elderly. In this post, we will review reasons for loss of appetite in the elderly, natural appetite stimulants for the elderly, and methods on how to stimulate appetite in the elderly.

Reasons for Loss of Appetite in the Elderly

Before we find an appetite stimulant for the elderly, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why an older adult could lose their appetite. These include:

  • Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease

  • Cancer

  • Gum disease

  • Thyroid disorders

  • Mouth and throat infections

  • Salivary gland problems

  • Medication side effects, such as dry mouth or metallic taste

  • Lack of exercise

  • Dehydration

  • Lack of a daily routine when it comes to meals

  • Loss of taste as a result of aging

  • Problems with chewing, swallowing, or eating independently

  • Sensitivity to smells of certain foods, which can cause nausea

  • Overall feelings of losing control of one’s life

  • Loneliness and depression

  • Overall unpleasant feelings around mealtimes

In the next two sections, we will go over how to increase appetite in the elderly.

Download Our Healthy Aging Diet Guide

Foods for the Elderly with No Appetite

Treatment for loss of appetite in the elderly can be as simple as finding foods to satisfy it. Some foods include:

  • Finger foods (i.e. chicken nuggets, fish sticks, steamed or raw vegetables, meatballs)

  • Cheese sticks or string cheese

  • Calcium-rich or full-fat yogurt

  • Lean proteins like beans, peas and lentils

  • Finely chopped or ground meat

  • Whole milk or chocolate milk

  • Diced fruit

  • Crackers with peanut butter or cheese

  • Healthy milkshakes or smoothies

  • Nutritious soups

  • Hot cocoa

  • Full-fat cottage cheese

  • Full-fat milk

  • Fiber-fortified cereal and bread

  • Vitamin D-rich fish and eggs

Next, let’s review how to increase appetite in the elderly naturally.

Tricks to Stimulate Appetite in the Elderly

When it comes to finding an appetite stimulant for the elderly, natural methods can come in handy. Below are some tips to help stimulate appetite in older adults:

  • Figure out the underlying issue. If the loss of appetite is caused by an illness, infection, or medication, it is paramount to deal with this problem first. Speak to your doctor to determine the best method.

  • Form a routine. Eating around the same time each day can train the body to recognize when it’s time for meals.

  • Accommodate your eating style. If you prefer to eat small snacks throughout the day, don’t pressure yourself to start eating three large meals every day. Be sure to keep nutritious meals that fit your lifestyle.

  • Make your food more digestible. Fennel, ginger, rosemary, or turmeric are known for helping to cure loss of appetite. Furthermore, avoiding foods with strong odors is also recommended.

  • Serve water between meals/limit fluids during meals. Liquids can help moisten foods so seniors can swallow safely, plus prevent dehydration — a natural appetite suppressant. However, beverages can also fill seniors up too quickly, so for some, it may be best to drink after meals.

  • Experiment with different food temperatures. Sometimes, people change their preferences for hot meals vs. cold meals.

Provide independence. Caregivers being too involved in their loved one’s eating habits can sometimes have negative effects. Provide freedom of choice when it comes to deciding how and when they want to eat.

Date: March 30, 2023

Author: Jeremy Rodriguez


please enter a zip code, or a more specifc location

Give us a call


*The Griswold service model varies depending on which state the office is in. In some states, our service is solely to refer thoroughly screened professional caregivers. In other states, we employ and supervise the caregivers. In every state, we're 100% focused on quality services and responsiveness to your needs. For each office, you'll see its service model and learn how we can best help you and your family with your home care needs. (See item 7 and item 19 of our current FDD for additional information.)