Anorexia Increasing In Senior Women
Anorexia is also difficult to diagnose in the older population, mainly because many seniors live on their own and have limited contact with others. Those who live in assisted living situations or nursing homes may simply refuse food, offering excuses such as feeling too full or sick to eat.
Experts who are aware of the issue are now warning physicians that these excuses should be examined to diagnose whether there is an underlying eating disorder. Frequently when seniors with anorexia refuse to eat they are attempting to control the one thing they still feel able to controltheir food intake. Other reasons for refusing food might be triggered by depression, even an attempt at suicide.
But refusing food is not always a case of anorexia. As we age, taste buds grow less sensitive and appetite decreases. Certain medications blunt taste and sense of smell, and a variety of illnesses like cancer also reduce appetite. A thorough examination should be given in order to determine if the underlying issue is psychological or medical, or a combination of both.
Treatment of anorexia at any age involves restoring the patient to a healthy weight, treating the psychological issues that are causing the disorder, and reducing behaviors or thoughts that lead to the eating disorder to prevent relapse.
For anorexic seniors who usually have other medical issues, physicians need to go one step further. Its not only important that the treatment involve healthy meals but also, physical rehabilitation, environmental modifications, and in many cases, appetite-stimulating medications.
Robin Westen is ThirdAges medical reporter. Check for her daily updates.
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