Helping Your Senior Loved One With Their Eating Disorder: What You Should Know

Health & Medical Blog

Many people are under the false assumption that eating disorders only affect young people. The issue of adolescent eating disorders is a large one to be sure. However, this does not mean that teens and young adults are the only people who suffer from eating disorders. If you have a loved one who is a senior citizen and they are having weight or eating issues, it can be easy to attribute them to other health problems, including dental health, dementia, and even cancer.

For this reason, eating disorders in the elderly often go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed for a long time before they are correctly identified. Get to know how you can help your elderly loved one with their eating disorder so that they can get the treatment they need and recover that much sooner.

Do Not Ignore The Signs

While your loved one may suffer from health conditions such as those previously mentioned that can affect their appetite or their physical ability to eat, there are telltale signs that someone is dealing with an eating disorder rather than another health ailment. If your loved one is suddenly hoarding food or the "remains" of their food (like bones, wrappers, or the like) around their home, this is a common sign of an eating disorder. Keeping a close accounting of calorie consumption or the like is also typical of a person with an eating disorder.

Refusing to eat in front of people or obsessively measuring and weighing oneself as well as constantly criticizing their own appearance and size are also symptoms of eating disorders. If you notice these signs along with drastic changes in weight or appearance, the worst thing you could do for your loved one is to ignore those signs. Confront your loved one or consult with a medical professional to determine what the next steps should be to get your loved one back to health.

Support Them And Encourage Their Treatment

There are many treatment options for eating disorders that can help your loved one recover and get better. Family therapy is an option that you may be able to engage in with your loved one. Going to family therapy sessions of your loved one's eating disorder many help you to better understand the reasons that your loved one developed their troubles and what role you can play in keeping them on track.

Other treatments can include both residential and outpatient programs with individual and group counseling sessions, nutrition coaching, art and music therapy, and several other treatment options. Be sure that even when you cannot participate in their treatments that you support and encourage their efforts. If they are in an outpatient program, offer to drive them to and from their sessions. Ask them about treatment and listen to what they have to say. If your senior loved one feels important to you and that you support their efforts, they will be more likely to overcome their eating disorder successfully.

Now that you know a few of the ways that you can help your senior loved one with an eating disorder, you can better provide your loved one with the care and support they need going forward. Click here for treatment options for eating disorders.


27 March 2016

Help Others Make Health Decisions when They Cannot

One day I was playing a game of basketball with a friend, and the friend I was playing ball with tripped and took a hard fall to the ground. He hit his head hard, but he insisted he was okay and just wanted to go home and take a nap. I knew in my heart that he was not thinking clearly, and I didn't feel right letting him go home. I talked him into letting me take him to the hospital, and after some tests, it was determined he had a bad concussion. The doctors told me that if I had let him go home and sleep, things could have taken a turn for the worse. I created this blog to remind everyone to look out for each other after injuries. Not everyone thinks clearly after a head injury, and just being a good friend could save a life.