Typically associated with adolescents and young women, eating disorders also affect middle-aged or elderly women — although, until fairly recently, not much was known about prevalence in this older age group. Secrecy and shame are part of the disorder, and women may not seek help. This is particularly true if they fear being forced to gain unwanted weight or stigmatized as an older woman with a "teenager's disease. Despite underdiagnosis of eating disorders in older people, clinicians at treatment centers specializing in such issues report that they've seen an upswing in requests for help from older women. Some of these women have struggled with disordered eating for decades, while for others the problem is new. The limited amount of research on this topic suggests that such anecdotal reports may reflect a trend. In community surveys conducted in and again in , for example, Australian researchers found that while younger women reported eating disorder behaviors more often than older women did, the rate of these disorders in older women increased dramatically between the two surveys, while it remained stable for young women. In women ages 65 and over, strict dieting, fasting, and binge eating all tripled, while purging quadrupled. In the same surveys, rates of strict dieting or fasting and purging also increased dramatically in women ages 45 to
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Toni Saiber was going through a divorce when her soon-to-be ex-husband made a passing comment about her weight. The jab stung and reverberated in her head: She was 30, about to be back out on the dating market, and felt particularly vulnerable. Saiber, a successful interior designer in Denver, liked things to be perfect. Once she stopped eating much of anything after 4 p.
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Parenting is hard. Parenting a child with an eating disorder is even harder, regardless of their age. In most cases, their child lives at home and that proximity can lend itself to the development of a strong support system. That child may also need to be swayed or influenced to seek treatment, but at the end of the day, parents generally have a lot of influence, transparency and involvement to get them on the proper road to recovery. For parents of an adult child with an eating disorder, well, it may seem different on the surface. Chances are your child lives more independently, may work full-time or could reside many miles away from you and other key supports. Convincing — and ultimately helping — them to receive treatment can be a more complicated process. For starters eating disorder treatment models shift when someone reaches the age of
Although the term eating is in the name, eating disorders are about more than food. In the United States alone, an estimated 20 million women and 10 million men have or have had an eating disorder at some point in their life 1. Eating disorders are a range of psychological conditions that cause unhealthy eating habits to develop. They might start with an obsession with food, body weight, or body shape. In severe cases, eating disorders can cause serious health consequences and may even result in death if left untreated. Those with eating disorders can have a variety of symptoms. However, most include the severe restriction of food, food binges, or purging behaviors like vomiting or over-exercising. Although eating disorders can affect people of any gender at any life stage, they're most often reported in adolescents and young women.