A young woman with anorexia nervosa is typically a perfectionist and a high achiever in school or in her career. At the same time, she suffers from low self-esteem, irrationally believing she is overweight regardless of how thin she becomes. Desperately needing a feeling of mastery over her life, the young woman with anorexia nervosa experiences a sense of control only when she says "no" to the normal food demands of her body. In a relentless pursuit to be thin, the young woman starves herself. This often reaches the point of serious damage to the body, and in a small number of cases may lead to death.
An elderly woman with anorexia nervosa, is not as common, however elderly women who have been diagnosed with eating disorders often have the same underlying emotional triggers that are linked to eating disorders in younger women. The difference lies in the specific nature of these triggers, such as divorce or serious health issues. Even “positive” life changing events such as retirement or becoming a new grandparent can be emotional triggers that can lead elderly women into self-doubt and low-self esteem using food as a way to take control of their emotions. The loss of a spouse can often trigger unusual eating patterns. Not only do naturally strong emotions during this time play a factor in decreased appetite, but also this individual was likely the person with whom the elderly patient prepared and ate meals. The loss of a spouse can increase anxiety around food and meal times, which has the potential to snowball into an eating disorder.
Center For Discovery's Treatment Centers specialize in treatment for eating disorders, mental health and dual diagnosis treatment with unique treatment programs for every individual to get them on their way to eating disorder recovery.
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Asides from a treatment team that consists of therapists and dietitians, elderly clients will most likely need to be assessed by a geriatric physician who can differentiate any underlying undiagnosed medical conditions or dementia. Physicians who specialize in geriatrics are also acutely aware of certain medications that should be avoided in the elderly population because of their side effect profile. Although eating disorders are the same, in theory, across all age groups; the elderly population is very vulnerable to complications and as a result, a different approach must be taken while consulting physicians who specialize in geriatrics.