Eating Recovery Center In The News: EverydayHealth.com
Each week, Eating Recovery Center’s Chief Marketing Officer Julie Holland, MHS, CEDS, a clinician with almost 30 years experience in the treatment of eating disorders, shares advice and insights with readers of EverydayHealth.com. In the most recent installment of her blog, The Truth About Eating Disorders, Julie discusses with Bonnie Brennan, MA, LPC, Clinical Director of the Adult Partial Hospitalization Program, how eating disorders are becoming more common than expected in older women. Read the full blog post below, or click here to view other posts from Julie on EverydayHealth.com.
Anorexia and bulimia have traditionally – and errantly – been seen as a “teenage girl’s” disease, but recent trends and an online study from the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program released last month reveal that more and more women in mid-life are struggling with disordered eating behaviors and body image issues. In fact, last year, Eating Recovery Center saw patients ranging from 9 to 81 years old, underscoring the fact that eating disorders affect people of all ages.
Bonnie Brennan, MA, LPC, clinical director of the adult partial hospitalization program at Eating Recovery Center, shares her thoughts on the rising incidence of eating disorders in older women.
Often, women who are seeking eating disorders treatment in mid-life aren’t doing so because they’ve recently begun exhibiting disordered eating behaviors; but rather, because a past struggle with food and eating disorders is emerging once again due to a major life event.
As many women enter their 40s and 50s, they find themselves with new experiences they’ve never had to face before. Whether their children are leaving for college and having an “empty nest,” a parent becoming ill or passing away or going through a divorce, baby boomers are facing major life changes that could potentially trigger the onset or relapse of eating disordered behaviors.
It’s also important to note that much of the recent research that has been published is helping more women in mid-life understand that what they’re experiencing is in fact an eating disorder and that they should seek treatment. Decades ago, we simply didn’t have the background and education about eating disorders like we do today and many doctors didn’t even think non-teenage women could have anorexia or bulimia. In the past, these doctors’ training would likely have led them to believe these patients were dealing with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) or other medical issues. In fact, several women in Eating Recovery Center’s adult partial hospitalization program have mentioned doctors telling them they were “too old to have an eating disorder” when these women were first looking for answers.
This online study found some interesting information as it pertains to weight issues and eating disordered behaviors among older women:
- 71.2 percent stated they were currently trying to lose weight and many are going about it in unhealthy ways.
- About 13 percent of women older than 50 said they’d currently binged, purged or practiced other behaviors associated with eating disorders; 27.7 percent reported having eating disordered behaviors at some point in the past.
- About 8 percent of women who participated in the study admitted to vomited or used laxatives to lose weight in the last five years, which is surprisingly the same proportion found in young women.
The release of this online study creates an opportunity for all of us to educate the public that eating disorders don’t discriminate based on age. We all need to remind our loved ones about potential eating disorders warning signs and help those that need help start down the path of eating disorders treatment. Regardless of an individual’s age, the sooner he or she seeks treatment, the better his or her chances are for lasting eating disorders recovery.
If you’re concerned that a friend or loved one may be struggling with an eating disorder or body image issues, find a quiet place to talk with him or her, discuss your worries in an open and caring manner and urge your loved one to speak with a eating disorders specialist and address the issue. This can be especially difficult if it’s someone close to you like your mother or aunt. Just remind your loved one that you’re worried for her health and want to make sure she’s healthy—physically, mentally and emotionally.
Ms. Brennan recently spoke to a Denver TV station about one woman’s attempt to be the “perfect mom” only to find herself struggling with an eating disorder. Check out the interview about older women with eating disorders.