How Technology Can Help Seniors to Increase Appetite

My mother had a Lymphoma and at some point when the treatment was very intensive she barely could eat. It was hard to see her losing weight. No matter what I offered her to eat she was just no feeling hungry, and she had to force herself to have a small bite. Cancer became a very common disease and almost every family has or knows somebody who suffers from it. In this article, I want to find what is the main reason for losing appetite and how we can fix it with easy simple steps.

How technology can help seniors to increase appetite? Aging comes with a lot of troubles, one of which is the loss of appetite. But nowadays we can leverage the new technology and the latest gadgets to increase appetite, avoid weight loss and limit the negative effects of the medications. Most of the gadgets are easy to use and affordable. Healthy eating is very important for the elderly, especially for one living alone. I hope that the gadgets and new tech in this article will help somebody to improve their well-being.

Why seniors lose their appetite?

There are plenty of reasons why the elderly losing appetite but in general, they can be physical or psychological. Psychological is a mental state condition that can significantly affect appetite. Changes in the aging body can contribute to declining appetite. Main Reasons for Seniors to lose their appetite:

  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Inability to prepare meals
  • Dehydration
  • Depression
  • Lack of exercise
  • Medication Side Effects
  • Poorly fitting dentures or other dental problems
  • Some sorts of cancer
  • Dementia or Alzheimer’s disease
  • Dysfunction of the salivary glands
  • Infections of the mouth and throat
  • Periodontal disease
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Changes to the sense of smell and taste
  • Loss of taste
  • Lack of energy to cook

How to know if there is a problem with appetite?

Appetite decrease is a common thing for the elderly. When we become older our metabolism slows down, we have less and less physical activity and the total amount of calories we need is lower. Between 15% and 30% of older people are estimated to have anorexia of aging, with higher rates in women, nursing home residents, hospitalized people and with increasing age (Malafarina et al., 2013). So what are the signs that something is not normal and maybe you need to call a doctor? It can be one of the following behaviors:

  • Refusing to eat their favorite foods
  • Fast weight loss
  • Turning down several meals in a row
  • Not liking the taste of the food
  • Postponing the meals
  • Not finishing their portions
  • Not feeling hungry

The Dangers of poor appetite

  • Dehydration
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Headaches
  • Constipation
  • Dizziness
  • malnutrition
  • imbalances of electrolytes
  • loss of muscle

Some people in the later stages of serious illnesses may experience cachexia. Cachexia is the term for weight loss, muscle wastage, and general ill-health caused by chronic, life-limiting illnesses.

What can be done to fight poor appetite? I have 16 tips for you!

1. Try liquid food

  • Substitute a meal with a nutritional supplement drink or a homemade smoothie made with protein powder. A liquid meal is highly efficient when a person doesn’t feel hungry for days.
  • Try to add extra calories to liquid food in the form of butter, sugar or nuts.
  • Don’t forget to add some protein.
  • Some good blender such as a Ninja Fit Personal Blender or a NutriBullet can perfectly do the trick. They make one time portion which is important for elderly with memory problems to always have a fresh meal.
  • Replace medication if it has side effects decreasing the appetite. Some medications have a lot of side effects that can influence taste receptors, disturb digestion system, cause nausea. Consult with your doctor to find out if there is a replacement with fewer side effects.

2. Increase nutrient density

  • Compliment each meal with avocado, oily fish, peanut butter, products containing nuts with high caloric value.

3. Set reminders

  • Alexa, Siri or Google Now are good tools to set up a reminder. It’s simple as saying: “Alexa, remind me to take my breakfast every day at 8am”.
  • Just use your smartphone with Alarm to schedule hourly meal reminders.
  • Some apps like, Wunderlist, Todoist can be a great help. It requires a one-time configuration to set up a reminder schedule but after it will take care of every meal.

4. Make checklists

Checklists are great for not forgetting things and placing them at a frequently visited place in the house helps to increase the chance that the elderly don’t forget to eat or have a glass of water. A Magnetic Behavior Chalkboard will help not to miss a meal during your day

5. Eat with others

Have regular meals outside with friends is a good practice, it creates a healthy routine and habit to eat at certain occasions. Being able to eat meals with friends or family, or in a social environment such as a care facility cafeteria rather than in your private room, may positively affect appetite.

6. Try to place snacks all over the house

Having some kinds of snakes everywhere in the house and in your helps to increase the probability of multiple meals throughout a day.

7. Select enjoyable food and food that has a pleasant aroma

Our body changes all the time and at some age, the taste receptors change the food preferences. Going to buffets with a wide variety of choices can help a lot. You can find the exact food that you would like to eat right away. Experiment with different options. Sometimes you have to experiment to find the foods you like. My mom was taking just milkshakes and a few blended fruits, and she refused meat or solid foods. Sometimes

8. Usefood delivery services

Food delivery services like Seamless, UberEats, Grubhub are easy to use and open us up to trying new restaurants and foods. Simply input your location, and these apps will show you hundreds of restaurants in your area that you can try without ever leaving the couch.

9. Stay well hydrated

Ice Water 3-in-1 Smart Water Bottle glows to remind you to drink water. It’s a great gadget for hearing impaired seniors.

10. Exercise lightly before meals to stimulate appetite

Having a light walk or some garden activity can benefit appetite increase. If the weather is bad you can use some kind of in house workout equipment. jfit Under Desk & Stand Up Mini Elliptical/Stepper or similar gadget stimulate blood circulation and helps to boost appetite. Just stay hydrated during the exercise.

11. Get plenty of rest

Having enough sleep and rest is crucial for weight regulation and metabolism.

12. Plan meals the day before eating them

Planning is the key. If there is a menu organized for a couple days in advance our brain is already prepared for it and subconsciously schedules the meal times.

13. Split daily meal in 6-8 small food

Small is big! Small and frequent portions work better than big and infrequent ones. It doesn’t take long

14. Take supplements to stimulate appetite

According to HealthLine:

Vitamins, minerals, and herbs may be effective in stimulating the appetite. In some cases, they may also be effective in treating vitamin and mineral deficiencies that are affecting appetite. Some of the supplements that may be helpful to add to your diet include:

  • A zinc deficiency can cause taste and appetite changes. A zinc supplement or multivitamin containing zinc should be safe for most older adults.
  • A vitamin B-1 deficiency can cause: increased resting energy expenditure, or the rate you burn calories when resting, decreased appetite, weight loss. Vitamin B-1 should be safe for most older adults.
  • Fish oil may stimulate the appetite. It may also improve digestion and reduce feelings of bloating or fullness that can keep you from eating. Fish oil is typically considered safe for any adult who doesn’t have allergies to fish. It’s important to speak with a doctor before giving supplements to very young children.

15. Try to eat just fresh food to avoid digestion problems

In order to have more control of the freshness of the food you are eating, I have 3 devices for you: Foodsniffer, Rubbermaid Food Storage Containers and Ovie Smarterware.

For the elderly is a common thing to have bad vision or loose the sensitivity of taste receptors. That’s why seniors become a victim of food poisoning. The Foodsniffer is a smart device that helps you determine whether foods are on the verge of spoiling.

The Rubbermaid Food Storage Containers are built to preserve food for longer. They are wonderful for fruits, vegetables and herbs. The vent in the lid allows some airflow to keep the interior from getting too moist while preventing them from drying out, which would happen if they were put into the fridge uncovered.

The Ovie Smarterware: The First Connected Food Storage System is a smart Tupperware integrated with Alexa that notifies you when the food is about to expire. The Ovie Smarterware food storage system is designed to help you keep track of the food in your fridge so it doesn’t go to waste. It has a light indicator that is green when the food is fresh and gets yellow when it’s about to expire and red indicates that the food should be tossed out

16. Use appetite stimulant

Some medications like Megestrol are used as a pharmacological appetite stimulants. This is the last resort option which requires a consultation with your doctor.

The Bottom Line

All the gadgets that I picked are affordable and easy to use. I hope these smart devices will help the elderly to increase their appetite and improve their day to date life.

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    1. Author

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