Taste and Appetite Loss in the Aged “My father is 93 years old and has stopped eating (except soup) because of lack of taste. He is in CA and is not strong enough to make a cross country trip. His health is deteriorating because of the lack of nutrition. We are going to start him on Ensure ... Article
Article  |   July 01, 2008
Taste and Appetite Loss in the Aged
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Robert I. Henkin, MD
    The Center for Molecular Nutrition and Sensory Disorders, Washington, DC
Article Information
Swallowing, Dysphagia & Feeding Disorders / Special Populations / Older Adults & Aging / Articles
Article   |   July 01, 2008
Taste and Appetite Loss in the Aged
SIG 15 Perspectives on Gerontology, July 2008, Vol. 13, 20-32. doi:10.1044/gero13.1.20
SIG 15 Perspectives on Gerontology, July 2008, Vol. 13, 20-32. doi:10.1044/gero13.1.20
Abstract

“My father is 93 years old and has stopped eating (except soup) because of lack of taste. He is in CA and is not strong enough to make a cross country trip. His health is deteriorating because of the lack of nutrition. We are going to start him on Ensure to try to get some nutrition in his system. Do you know of any way he can get help with his condition in California? Thanks, (Name withheld)”

This e-mail was received from a son of a patient who was desperately trying o help his father but did not know what to do for him or to whom to turn for help.

This problem cries out to the geriatric community for both awareness and solution. “Ensure” is a bandage used to cover up a serious and complicated systemic problem that is not being presently addressed. It has never been formally addressed. Perhaps one reason for the lack of awareness and solution is the complexity and multiple aspects of this problem (the extent to which physiology and pathology relate to appetite loss) which has not been brought together in a systematic approach. This article will describe a portion of the entire system with a focus on the sensory qualities of taste and smell, emphasizing the importance of this aspect of this complex system.

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