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Understanding Eating Disorders in the Elderly

Eating disorders are often associated with young adults and teens. However, conditions like anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating can also occur in older adults. Because these disorders can have serious consequences for your senior loved one’s health, it is important to know how to identify a possible eating disorder so he or she can receive prompt treatment. Philadelphia in-home senior care experts examine eating disorders in the elderly and offer suggestions on how to help them manage these conditions.

Early Onset

It is currently believed the majority of older adults with eating disorders developed their conditions when they were young, but they finally gained the courage to seek treatment later in life. According to The National Association of Anorexia Nervosa and Associated Disorders, approximately 86 percent of older adults claim their disorders began in their teens. However, some older adults develop eating disorders after age 50 due to changing life circumstances that trigger them to eat abnormally.

Triggers for Eating Disorders

Eating disorders often develop during life transitions such as starting a new career or getting divorced. For many seniors, the golden years are full of stressors that can trigger an eating disorder. The loss of a spouse, a new medical diagnosis, and retirement are just a few events that can put your loved one at greater risk for anorexia, bulimia, and binge eating.

Signs and Symptoms

By the time people have reached their senior years, they have usually become adept at hiding their disorders. Experiencing extreme weight changes, engaging in strange behavior such as using the bathroom immediately after meals, and purchasing laxatives are a few common signs of an eating disorder. As the problem progresses, seniors may begin to experience the symptoms of malnutrition, which may include excessive hair loss, fatigue, and foggy thinking.

Options for Help

It is important to reach out and seek treatment if you suspect your loved one has an eating disorder. Counseling is often effective for helping older adults learn to manage their stress and prevent triggers. Encourage your loved one’s other family members and professional caregivers in Philadelphia to stay alert for signs an eating disorder is occurring so they can provide the support he or she needs.

If you’re concerned about your loved one’s unhealthy eating habits, reach out to the senior care experts at Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers can prepare nutritious meals, go grocery shopping, and watch for signs of eating disorders, and we also offer specialized Parkinson’s, stroke, and dementia care Philadelphia families trust. For more information and to schedule a no-obligation consultation with one of our qualified Care Managers, call (215) 645.4663 or (484) 643.4663 today.