Common Eating Disorders among Elderly People

By 8  am on

Eating disorders can develop at any time in life, and seniors are susceptible to problems with their eating habits. Since seniors are already at greater risk for developing malnutrition, it’s important for you to be able to identify an eating disorder as soon as possible so your aging loved one gets help. Keep reading to learn about the most common eating disorders among older adults along with their symptoms so you can look out for your loved one’s health. 

Anorexia Nervosa

Anorexia is often associated with teenagers and young adults. However, seniors face new pressures as they age that increase the risk of developing this disorder. For instance, your loved one may be back in the dating scene for the first time in years, and he or she may think skipping meals will help him or her retain a thin figure. Alternatively, a senior who was diagnosed with the disorder in the past may see it come back during periods of severe stress.

Professional caregivers with training in nutrition and healthy habits can be a wonderful source of information and encouragement for seniors with eating disorders. Maintaining a high quality of life can be challenging for some seniors, but professional caregivers can help them attain this goal. Families can trust senior care experts to help their elderly loved ones focus on lifestyle choices that increase the chances of living longer and healthier lives.

Bulimia Nervosa

With bulimia, seniors engage in compulsive binge eating behaviours followed by cycles of purging. Keep in mind seniors may not always vomit up their meals. Instead, they may use laxatives to attempt to control their weight after they binge. You should suspect bulimia if you notice your loved one goes through laxatives or diuretics too fast or if he or she disappears to the restroom immediately after large meals. 

Binge Eating Disorder

Binge eating is similar to bulimia but without the purging. Seniors with this disorder may eat large quantities of food in a short time. Binge eating in secret could cause your loved one to not be hungry for regular meals. You may also find wrappers and dirty dishes hidden in places where your loved one thinks you won’t notice them. 

Helping a loved one with an eating disorder can be exhausting, and it’s important for family caregivers to make time to attend to their own wellbeing. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Edmonton, AB, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

Night Eating Syndrome

Seniors who have sleep disturbances are more likely to develop this disorder, and it has been linked to taking sleeping pills that lead to being in a semi-alert state at night. Typically, a senior with night eating syndrome gets extremely hungry after bedtime and begins to eat. While some seniors are conscious of their behaviour, others aren’t. If your loved one frequently wakes up to evidence that he or she ate food during the night with no memory of how it happened, encourage him or her to go to the doctor. 

Avoidant or Restrictive Food Intake Disorder

This type of eating disorder occurs when a senior suddenly won’t eat certain foods because of their taste, texture, or other type of sensory feedback. It’s important to clarify this isn’t the same thing as simply being a picky eater. If your loved one has this disorder, he or she may only be limited to eating a few select foods, and it affects his or her weight and nutritional intake. Seniors with Parkinson’s disease and other cognitive disorders have stronger chances of developing this disorder due to their symptoms. Make sure to mention any eating challenges you encounter with your loved one’s doctor so you can work together to find a solution. 

A professional caregiver can provide additional support if your loved one has an eating disorder. Not every senior has the same care needs, which means they don’t all need the same type of elder care. Edmonton families can rely on Home Care Assistance to provide individualized care plans to meet their elderly loved ones’ unique care needs. Our holistic Balanced Care Method was designed to help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and our Cognitive Therapeutics Method offers mentally stimulating activities that can stave off cognitive decline and delay the onset of dementia. If your loved one needs assistance with the challenges of aging, reach out to one of our knowledgeable, compassionate Care Managers today at (780) 490-7337.


    Request Free Information or
    Schedule a Free in-Home Consultation