Fond Memories of Food Could Help Older People Regain Appetite

by Chris Curley on June 29, 2012

Many of us who have aging relatives or friends have seen that point when appetites seem to fade and weight declines as a result. But a novel approach (or rather, a storytelling one) could help disinterested elderly eaters regain their passion for food, the Washington Post reported June 25.

The Post’s Rachel Tepper recounts getting her 85-year-old grandfather to eat again after three months of hospitalization for exhaustion. After having him recall the fond memories of the food he used to eat in his old neighborhood, Tapper took his grandfather on a food tour of his old haunts, jogging long-dormant memories of favorite delis and Chinese restaurants. In two months, Tepper’s grandfather gained back half the weight he’d lost.

The story is anecdotal, not scientific, but Tapper’s may nonetheless be a worthwhile approach. Eating is more than just a mechanical process, but deeply tied to emotions. For instance, studies show that people are happiest when with their families — often time spent at the dinner table (think Thanksgiving and Christmas too). Maybe a quick trip down memory lane is just what our loved ones need to get their appetite back.

(Photo © Paul Lowry vis Flickr)