Eating Disorders Among the Elderly Are Growing

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One of the great secrets as it pertains to eating disorders in modern day society is how greatly they affect the elderly population. Eating disorders among this segment of the population are on the rise, and have been for several years. According to Dr. Gregory Jantz, PhD, an internationally renowned eating disorder specialist, author and founder of The Center for Counseling and Health Resources, a residential treatment facility in Edmunds, Washington, the fact that eating disorders are rarely associated with the elderly is exacerbating this already troubling issue.

Eating disorders among the elderly are made even more serious by the fact that senior citizens may already be suffering from other issues as a result of advanced age. Coupled with those existing issues, an eating disorder can lead to tragic consequences. Studies show that eating disorders are particularly prevalent among elderly women. Some of the reasons eating disorders develop in elderly people are similar to those of younger sufferers. These include distorted body image, difficulty expressing feelings, family conflicts, purging, secretive behavior etc. Other issues are unique to the elderly population and include:

  • >>Difficulty eating
  • >>Reduced appetite due to medications
  • >>Dementia/forgetting to eat
  • >>Cancer and other illnesses that affect appetite
  • >>Inability to shop, cook or feed themselves
  • >>Poverty
  • >>Isolation
  • >>Elderly abuse
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“It is important to bring this very real and growing issue out into the open,” says Dr. Jantz. “Though there is a great deal of attention paid to eating disorders in this country and in our culture, the elderly have been left out of the conversation for too long. The best thing we can do for our elderly loved ones is to be on the lookout for symptoms of an eating disorder so that we can help to identify it should one be present.”

The Center for Counseling and Health Resources offers a whole-person approach to treatment of eating disorders including anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and compulsive overeating for patients of all ages. The whole-person approach addresses the emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual, relational and nutritional issues each individual is experiencing. You may reach The Center by calling (888) 771-5166, or through its website at aplaceofhope.com.