The aim of this study was to identify and describe factors of importance with regard to appetite among elderly people. A qualitative approach was used and the method was grounded theory. Fifteen elderly people were interviewed using a method with two overall questions. The results show that the willingness to eat plays a central role in appetite among elderly people. The appetite is a state on a sliding scale, from good to poor appetite. Factors affecting the appetite include six categories: mood, personal values, wholesomeness, food, eating environment and meal fellowship. When planning and realizing nursing actions concerning eating, the willingness to eat has to be observed. The desire within every individual has to be given consideration, including all factors as well as how they affect each other. The willingness to eat contains internal factors dependent on mood and personal values, as well as external factors dependent on wholesomeness, food, eating environment and meal fellowship. These factors contain qualitative dimensions, which affect elderly people's appetites as well as their quality of life to a varying extent. Through this, it can be seen that there is a connection between their desire or willingness to eat and their will to live.