Loss of Appetite in Seniors - Causes and Solutions

Find out what causes a loss of appetite in seniors. Learn the true causes of appetite loss and what the best foods for seniors with no appetite are.

What causes loss of appetite in seniors? Many older adults experience a loss of interest in food, forget to eat, or refuse to eat because it is not appealing. There are many reasons why people lose appetite, and knowing the possible causes can help you respond effectively.

Loss of Appetite in Seniors

The loss of appetite in seniors is a very common condition. As it can be caused by health conditions, the first thing to do is to rule out medical problems.

If you or someone you care for loses appetite all of a sudden, make an appointment to see your health care provider.

There can be caused by side effects of medication, or possibly by the development of a serious health condition.

Your doctor can evaluate if an illness is causing change in appetite. Some illnesses that can cause seniors loss of appetite include cancer, thyroid disorders, Alzheimers, Parkinson’s as well as mouth or throat infections.

After you’ve had a check-up and ruled out these possibilities as the cause of loss of appetite in older adults, explore other common causes.

Senior mother with no appetite with sad daughter next to her

What Causes of Loss of Appetite in Seniors

The top causes of loss of appetite in older adults fall into three buckets: lifestyle, changes due to age, and loneliness.



It’s easy to forget to drink enough water during the day. However, being dehydrated can cause a loss of appetite in older adults.

Lack of Activity

Are you getting enough exercise? Lack of physical activity can result in not having an appetite.

Lack of Routine

Some seniors lack a daily routine, and this contributes to not eating meals at the same time of day. Eating at specific times of the day helps the body feel primed for eating at those times.

Changes Due To Age

Difficulty eating

Having trouble eating can contribute to losing interest in food. The difficulty may relate to chewing, swallowing, or digesting foods. This may be due to dental problems, normal aging, or other health conditions.

Difficulty with meal preparation

If you are living independently, you may experience difficulty preparing your own meals. This can contribute to not eating and losing appetite.

Changes in taste

Taste buds change over time. You may find that foods that used to be appealing now taste boring, bland, or uninteresting.

Changes in smell

Some people experience changes in sensitivity to aromas. Specific foods may smell icky or make you feel nauseous.

Stressed asian senior woman having issues cooking


Loneliness can cause of loss of appetite. Many adults are used to eating with a loved one, partner, or spouse. If you or a senior you know has no one to eat with, this can increase feelings of isolation, depression, or loneliness.

Depression is not a natural part of aging yet it affects many people who are 65 and over. Meeting friends, eating together, and socializing with others can be an important part of regaining appetite and keeping a positive attitude.

Loss of appetite in older adults may be due to one or more of the causes described. Talk with your health care provider to first rule out serious medical conditions. Explore specifics and stay creative as you try various approaches to increase appetite.

Ways to Increase Appetite for Seniors

Use Smaller Portions

When looking for ways to make appealing food for seniors with no appetite, create smaller portions. Smaller portions are more approachable. Instead of confronting one big plate, prepare smaller amounts on several small plates.

Add Colorful Variety

Some people thrive on variety—and food is a place to offer it. To support older adults staying energetic at 60 and beyond, keep plenty of options on the table. Focus on having a rainbow of color. By creating a beautiful palette of choice, food selection is healthy and a lot of fun.

Focus on Ease

If you are tempting people who like to graze or snack, focus on fast choices that are easy to eat. Fill the cupboards, refrigerator, and freezer with easy to grab snacks.

For seniors who are living independently, a well-stocked freezer (90) with easy individual meals, snacks, and treats can make a world of difference. Grab a frozen meal, put it in the microwave, and enjoy.

Not sure where to begin with food for seniors with no appetite?

Start with foods that don’t require cooking: bananas, avocados, apples and pears are easy healthy snacks.

Senior woman in wheelchair with brown paper grocery bag

Tempt with Aroma

Consider fragrances, aromas, and smells as your allies for creating a return of appetite. Who can resist the smell of roasted garlic? How about the fragrance of fresh herbs picked from the garden or purchased at the farmer’s market?

Think about how to create a savory temptation through aromas. It’s a way to explore the power of smell. Experiment with culinary aromatherapy to ignite a loved one’s appetite.

Loss of Appetite in Older Adults: Ask for Input

Don’t let loss of appetite stop you from inquiring about favorite foods. Find out about favorite foods, appetite-igniting fragrances, and preferred times of eating. As you discover the zone of interest, you can add foods, snacks, and beverages that are appealing.

Explore Online Resources

Make use of all the great online resources for helping out a senior’s loss of appetite.

The government offers healthy meal planning tips for older adults. As you investigate how to improve the diet for seniors, be sure to look into all the great recipes, menu plans, and shopping guides on MyPlate Kitchen. These valuable resources make menu planning, cooking, and shopping easy to do.

Finding The Best Diet For Seniors

Keep creating, inventing, and learning. When exploring the causes and solutions for loss of appetite in seniors, don’t give up. At the Senior Assistance Club we’re constantly adding new articles, finding fresh resources, and looking for ways to support your health, nutrition, and well-being.