The best way to stimulate appetite is to increase the caloric density and taste of food while encouraging social meal times and a regular schedule, according to Premier Homecare Services. With gentle encouragement and small additions to the plate, the body's appetite can naturally increase.
As people age and their metabolisms decrease, it is common for their appetites to decrease. However, a decreased appetite can become a problem when it starts to cause major weight loss or nutrient deficiencies. There are appetite stimulants available with prescriptions that can encourage the appetite, but caretakers may want to seek out natural options before taking this step.
According to Premier Homecare Services, it is important to focus on increasing calorie density in foods rather than increasing portion sizes. Consider adding in a scoop of a protein powder to shakes or drinks. Put a slice or two of tomato on the plate as garnish. Another idea is to keep plates and bowls of snacks out all day, so that extra calories can be taken in through grazing. They also recommend increasing the flavor of foods, since many elderly patients experience a loss of taste or smell. Instead of adding more salt, bulk up the flavor by experimenting with herbs and spices. Today's Geriatric Medicine suggests making mealtime a social event, so dine together or set up a group meal with other elderly patients. Also, work to maintain the eating schedule. Even if the patient doesn't feel hungry during mealtime, try to encourage him or her to drink a nutritional shake or have a snack.