What Causes Loss of Appetite in Elderly Parents?

What Causes Loss of Appetite in Elderly Parents?

You visit with your elderly parent or other loved one as often as you can. One day, they're in good health and high spirits. The next time you visit though, you notice they seem different.

This continues until your elderly family member is gaunt. You wonder if they've been eating. You speak to a nurse or other medical staff and discover that your loved one has been only nibbling at their meals.


What causes a loss of appetite in elderly patients? Is this normal? Should you be concerned?

Yes, you should be. This is abnormal behavior and should be prioritized. 

We'll explain what may be the culprit of a loss of appetite in elderly patients. Read on.


Parkinson's Disease

With Parkinson's Disease, a patient may have shakes or tremors. These may worsen as the condition progresses. These tremors may give way to balance issues, bodily stiffness, and a reduction in mobility. 

As you can imagine, these symptoms make life much more difficult to navigate. It's possible your loved one may find it hard to eat so they've stopped trying.

If that's the case, it's important you sit down and work with them. Help them through their discomfort. 

If your senior family member finds it hard to eat without assistance, ensure they get the attention they need at mealtime. 


Alzheimer's Disease

With Alzheimer's Disease, your senior loved one will progressively forget more and more of their life. This is a heartbreaking condition. Sadly, Alzheimer's symptoms often flow over to self-care.

It's very likely your loved one has just forgotten to eat. By setting several reminders a day, they should be able to get their eating back on track.



Both the symptoms and treatment of cancer can cause a loss of appetite in senior patients. Depending on where the tumor is located and how big it grows, your loved one may not want to eat. They may experience discomfort and nausea if they do eat.

If a senior is undergoing chemotherapy, this can also wreak havoc on their appetite. They may be exhausted above all else and just want to rest.

The treatment can also lead to nausea and vomiting. This can cause sudden and concerning weight loss.

If your loved one has not been diagnosed with cancer, take them to get a medical screening. If they're undergoing chemo, be patient with them, but nudge them to eat. 


And Another Cause of Loss of Appetite in Elderly Patients...Depression

Depression is not a condition that a person outgrows. If your elderly family member had depression in adulthood, it could carry over to their senior years.

Some seniors develop depression as they get older. The lack of autonomy that comes with aging could be the trigger, as can disability and death of loved ones.

If you suspect a senior has depression, don't ignore it. Get them help. With therapy and/or medication, their appetite should gradually return.


Does your loved one have a disability and require special care? Contact us at The Independent Living Center. We offer such services as independent living skills and transition services.