Eating disorders are more common in women than in males, and they most commonly affect younger people. As a consequence, many people believe that these are the only ones who can get this disease. But, eating disorders may strike anybody, irrespective of age, color, or gender. Because of the prejudice around anorexia and bulimia and the belief that they don’t affect older adults when they do, most adults don’t obtain the appropriate treatment they require. As a caregiver, you should be aware of the indicators of unhealthy eating in mom or dad and be prepared to intervene if necessary.
How Does It Affect Older Persons?
Life changes that take place as people become older might lead to an increase in unhealthy eating. Retirees may develop body issues as a result of retirement, the death of a close one, or feelings of diminished autonomy. It’s difficult to detect, though, because many elderly people’s diets and food inclinations alter as they age.
Due to the sheer unavoidable shifts in their bodies that occur with aging, older persons may develop eating problems. People who are beginning to show apparent indications of aging may become self-conscious and yearn for a more youthful appearance. They may regard decreasing weight as a concrete method to improve their looks, which can contribute to a distorted sense of self-worth.
Common Eating Disorders Among Elderly
- Anorexia Nervosa
Losing weight, an unrealistic body image, and difficulty sustaining an adequate BMI value are all symptoms of anorexia nervosa. Anorexics typically limit their calorie intake and the sorts of foods they consume. Some old individuals with the illness can also be obsessive exercisers.
- Bulimia Nervosa
Compulsive eating is a symptom of this illness, which is characterized by uncontrollable bouts of eating. Purging is then carried out through means such as vomiting or the abuse of laxatives. Binge eating is defined as consuming a great amount of food in a short time of fewer than 2 hours. Your loved one may find it tough to halt or control their bingeing episodes. The binge-purge patterns might occur many times per day or multiple times per week.
How to Help a Loved One with Eating Disorders
- Use the Magic “I”
Focus primarily on behaviors that you’ve seen, such as “I’ve noticed that you’re not having meals with us often” or “I’m concerned about your countless trips to the fitness center.” It’s possible to come across as accusatory when using “you,” which might make someone combative. Instead, focus on highlighting what you’ve noticed.
- Gear Up for Negative Reactions
Some people with eating disorders feel relieved that somebody has discovered their problems; others might have a negative reaction. These people may get enraged and confrontational, arguing that you are the issue. Selected persons may dismiss your worries or downplay the threats. These reactions are perfectly typical so focus on reinforcing your worries, expressing your concerns, and keeping the dialogue going.
To recover from an eating problem, many people seek professional assistance. If the sufferer doesn’t have a doctor or therapist, offer to help them locate one, or accompany them to a consultation when the eating problem will be addressed. Getting prompt, effective therapy improves a person’s chances of recovery considerably. So, take your chance!