Don’t rely on your older adult’s ability to feel their hunger (it declines with age) before giving them food.
Include high-protein, high-calorie options like meat and cheese roll-ups, full-fat yogurt and peanut butter crackers. Drink meals instead. Many elderly people have trouble chewing. And others just prefer liquids and softer foods.
The physiological changes that occur with ageing that can impair appetite include changes to the digestive system, hormonal changes, disease, pain, changes to the sense of smell, taste and vision and a decreased need for energy. Changes to the digestive system can contribute to declining appetite.
Unfortunately, refusing to eat and/or a lack of appetite is a common aspect of dementia, which can be a great source of concern and frustration for caregivers. Forcing your loved one to eat is not an option, however, since they may choke or accidentally inhale food into their lungs.
If you stop eating and drinking, death can occur as early as a few days, though for most people, approximately ten days is the norm. In rare instances, the process can take as long as several weeks.
Supplements to stimulate appetite
Dos and don’ts
It may seem that the person is being starved or dehydrated to death, but they are not. In the end stages of dementia (in the last few months or weeks of life), the person’s food and fluid intake tends to decrease slowly over time. The body adjusts to this slowing down process and the reduced intake.
Elderly dietary problems can be caused by a number of different factors: lack of interest in food due to changing taste buds, depression, or loneliness; lack of energy to cook; loss of appetite due to health conditions; and medication side effects, to name just a few.
16 Ways to Increase Your Appetite
What Can I Do When My Elderly Loved One Stops Eating?
Experts suggest that signs of the final stage of Alzheimer’s disease include some of the following: Being unable to move around on one’s own. Being unable to speak or make oneself understood. Needing help with most, if not all, daily activities, such as eating and self-care. 4
If a person stops eating or drinking because of their reduced appetite, this may be hard to accept, but it is a normal part of the dying process. If they stop drinking, their mouth may look dry, but this does not always mean they are dehydrated. It is normal for all dying people eventually to stop eating and drinking.