Most people who develop eating disorders are female. As many as 90%. These illnesses are typically seen during adolescence and young adulthood.
But eating disorders also affect older women. That includes women in their 60s and beyond.Aging may bring on an eating disorder. Clinicians specializing in these issues report that theyre seeing more older women.
Rates of strict dieting, fasting, binge eating and purging are up significantly. Many report being preoccupied with food or feeling guilty about eating.
Some of these women have struggled with disordered eating for decades. For others, the problem is new.
Grief over losing a loved one can lead to an appetite change. Marriage breakups can spur a woman to view her body unfavorably. Comparisons to other singles or an ex-spouses new girlfriend can make it worse.
Restricting food or purging can be a way to deal with distressing feelings.
Many people, no matter their age, want to look younger. Botox and plastic surgery have fueled fantasies of stopping the clock.
On the healthy side, there is new attention and enthusiasm for diet and exercise. That is mostly beneficial.
Eating disorders can be dangerous, even deadly, in youth. They are real illnesses needing treatment.
Their impact is more apparent with age. Those who suffer with these illness can have significant complications, such as dental problems, arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), or osteoporosis.
Forceful vomiting may result in a medical emergency. Older women may be more prone to stomach ruptures or a tear in the esophagus.
It takes time and effort to keep up the disordered eating and hiding it from family and friends. A woman might have a health scare. Or a loved one dies.
That may spark a realization of the sheer amount of mental and physical energy required to maintain these behaviors. A woman may finally decide that enough is enough and seek treatment.