Elderly people can also face the problem of loss of appetite as they continue to age. A loss of appetite usually signals that something is wrong and it’s not a normal part of aging. Medical treatment may be needed.
“There’s a fair amount of evidence that suggests if you lose appetite as an older person, in the next six months, you’ll have a higher chance of dying,” said Dr. John Morley, geriatrics director at Saint Louis University Hospital, and a professor of medicine.
There are a number of health problems that can lead to a loss of appetite in the elderly, including cancer, heart problems, and infectious diseases. Elderly people who suddenly lose their appetite should see a doctor for a complete evaluation.
Side Effects of Medications
A number of medications can cause a loss of appetite, including many antibiotics, some antidepressants, digitalis (a heart medication), some arthritis medications, and many pain medications.
According to the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance, more than six million elderly Americans suffer from clinical depression. Causes of depression in the elderly include loss of loved ones, loss of independence, physical health problems, and financial worries. Loss of appetite is a common symptom of depression.
Difficulty Chewing or Swallowing
Elderly people sometimes have difficulty chewing or swallowing for a wide variety of reasons. Something as simply as ill-fitting dentures makes eating difficult. People with dementia actually forget how to chew in some cases.
Change in Taste
As people age, their sense of taste changes. Food seems to have less flavor. Some medications also affect our sense of taste. If food doesn’t taste good, our appetite decreases.