What do you think of when you hear someone talk about eating disorders? If you’re like most people, you likely envision a teenage girl who is worried about being called fat and either binges what she eats or eats as little as possible. However, this age group isn’t the only one susceptible to developing an eating disorder. In fact, it is one of the biggest concerns when it comes to senior health. It’s important to recognize what this type of problem looks like for the elderly so you can step in and help when needed.
First and foremost, it’s important to understand the types of eating disorders that exist so you know what you should be looking for. The most commonly recognized eating disorder is anorexia nervosa. This condition involves severely limiting the intake of food, which can have a massively negative effect on overall health. This can lead to dangerously low weight and increase the risk of illness.
Bulimia is another common eating disorder seen in senior health care facilities. This condition often means seniors will eat as normal, but afterward, they will purge the food from their system by either inducing vomiting or using a laxative to move the food through the system more quickly, reducing the nutrients absorbed into the system.
Binge-eating is yet another type of condition that can poorly impact a senior’s health. These individuals often overeat, either occasionally or on a regular basis. This occurs for a number of reasons, but the results are the same. They end up feeling ashamed and stop for a period of time only to begin again.
Even if your loved one is in senior care, it’s important to watch out for the signs for yourself as well. After all, you know your loved one better than anyone. If your senior relative is skipping meals on a regular basis or making excuses for not eating, they may be having an issue with anorexia. If they frequently make trips to the bathroom after eating, they could be suffering from bulimia. Any food-related behavior that is out of the ordinary can be an indicator of an eating disorder that could lead to serious health problems with your loved one.
One of the easiest ways to help determine if your loved one is experiencing an eating disorder is to spend time with them. Share a meal with them and pay attention to their habits. The more often you do this, the easier it will be to identify a problem without your loved one feeling like you are spying on them.
Identifying an eating disorder isn’t necessarily easy, but it is important to make sure your loved one gets the senior care they need. The sooner they are diagnosed with an eating disorder, the less likely they will experience long-term effects from the condition.
If you think your loved one may be suffering from an eating disorder, contact us. We help with senior health care issues so our residents are as healthy as possible.