Did you know that seniors can develop eating disorders? You might just think that conditions like anorexia or bulimia only affect teenagers or young adults, but the elderly are at risk of eating disruptions too, with extreme effects on their health. Even if the senior hasn’t had a problem with body image, stress or food intake in the past, they could still develop this psychological disorder. When you learn to recognize the signs of eating disorders in the elderly, you can get them the professional help they need to get well again.
Seniors develop eating disorder just as people of all ages do. Some are worried about their looks while others endure a traumatic or stressful event and are seeking to control aspects of their lives. Still others simply lose the desire to eat, struggle with dentures or arthritis, or have such a diminished appetite that their nutritional needs are not being met.
Physical Warning Signs
When an elderly person is experiencing an eating disorder, there are definitely physical warning signs to look for. The problem is that they are often overlooked or attributed to the aging process instead of what they really are. Ignoring an eating disorder for too long can have huge health consequences and can even be fatal in seniors. Common physical clues for an elderly eating disorder include dry skin and hair, hair loss, fainting, muscle loss, weakness, low blood pressure, slow heart rate, and dehydration.
Family caregivers are the best observers in the day to day changes of their elderly loved ones. They can also ask other family members, home care aides, friends and social group leaders about any changes they’ve noticed.
Psychological Warning Signs
Eating disorders originate in the mind, and the most common trigger is stress. There’s no doubt that stress is a part of every senior’s life, especially as they encounter many problematic events such as losing family members and friends, chronic illnesses, retirement, negative effects of aging and their own mortality.
Often, when life is spiraling out of control, some people focus hard on things they can control, like eating. Warning signs include withdrawing from activities and loved ones, irritability, anxiety, lethargy, negative comments, empty feelings and hopelessness. Major life events can be the trigger for eating disorders in seniors, so family caregivers should observe closely in the weeks following.
What Family Caregivers Can Do
If a family caregiver suspects their aging loved one is struggling with an eating disorder, it’s critical to set up some professional help as soon as possible. A physical can provide support for the health consequences of the eating disorder and recommend any vitamins or supplements to get their nutritional needs back on track.
Caregivers can instruct home care assistants and other family members to serve nutrient-rich food
and keep track of what the senior does eat. Since eating disorders have a mental health component, it’s a good idea to set up some therapy with a professional to get to the root of the problems.
With support from numerous places, any elderly person that is dealing with an eating disorder can eventually overcome the negative thoughts and actions that are putting their health and wellness in jeopardy.
If You Or An Aging Loved One Are Considering Hiring Professional Home Care in Palm Beach Gardens, FL, Please Contact The Caring Staff at Assisting Hands Home Care at 561-829-3080 Today.