Community Blog

Can a Medical Disorder Affect How Foods Taste to Your Parent?

By Mike Jackson

Hypogeusia is a condition in which affected people cannot taste bitter, salty, sour, sweet, or umami flavors. Ageusia is a condition where people cannot taste any flavors at all. Both are very rare conditions. Dysgeusia is a condition where the mouth fills with a metallic, unpleasant taste. It's more common in older women than men.

While these medical disorders occur, it's not very likely they are causing your parents to suddenly dislike certain foods. What is more likely is that your parent has a medical condition affecting the taste buds. A changing sense of smell is the most likely cause of all.

Medical Issues That Do Impact How Foods Taste

Allergy season is here. If your parent has allergies, an ear infection or upper respiratory infection can cause foods to taste different. If this is the cause, once the infection clears up, foods will go back to tasting normal.

Oral problems can also impact how foods taste. If your parent doesn't see a dentist regularly or recently underwent a tooth extraction, sinus, or throat surgery, there's the chance that the sudden change of taste is related.

Some medications can impact how foods taste. If your parent is taking antibiotics, allergy medications, or medications to lower cholesterol or blood pressure, foods may taste differently. Corticosteroids, blood thinners, and asthma medications can also impact how foods taste.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments often cause foods to taste differently. If your parent has cancer and is undergoing chemo and/or radiation, foods your mom or dad used to love may not be appealing while the treatments are taking place.

What if it's the Sense of Smell?

Elderly people find their sense of smell decreases as they age. A report in the Postgraduate Medical Journal found that more than 62 percent of men and women in their 80s and 90s lost some of the sense of smell.

There's also evidence that Alzheimer's and mild cognitive impairment can lead to changes in how things smell. If your mom or dad has Alzheimer's or MCI, food likes and dislikes may change over time.

Make Sure Malnutrition Doesn't Become an Issue

When foods taste or smell differently, your parent may stop eating as much or make poor food choices. Foods that smell and taste very sweet may become more appealing. You need to find a way to make sure your parent is still eating well.

Serve small plates that have one or two appetizer-sized portions. As you find foods your mom or dad likes, add them to a list. Use that to come up with nutritionally-sound menus.

Enlist caregivers to ensure your mom or dad is getting enough fiber, protein, vitamins, and minerals. With regular communication, you and any caregivers working with your parents will uncover your parent's new favorites and new dislikes. Call an agency to arrange meal preparation services from caregivers.

Sources:

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2579627/

IF YOU OR AN AGING SENIOR ARE CONSIDERING SENIOR ELDERLY HOME CARE FOR SENIORS IN MERIDIAN, ID, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT HOME HELPERS HOME CARE OF BOISE. CALL US: (208) 322-2668.

SERVING BOISE, MERIDIAN, KUNA, EAGLE IDAHO AND SURROUNDING COMMUNITIES