When most people think of common eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, they imagine them only afflicting teenage girls or young women. But this is not the case. Eating disorders do not discriminate based on age or sex and affect people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, body sizes, and socioeconomic statuses. One group that is often neglected in media portrayals of people with eating disorders and research studies is middle-aged adults. Typically, middle-age is defined as above 40 years old and research shows that individuals in this age group can also receive an eating disorder diagnosis. Whether this is a new development for some, or an individual is experiencing a reoccurrence of eating disorder behaviors that they thought were long gone, these are serious health issues that can have lasting effects.

What Do Eating Disorders Mean for Those Who Develop Them Later in Life?

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate out of any known mental health condition, including depression and substance abuse. However, because they are often an invisible illness, many people with an eating disorder diagnosis go unnoticed by friends and family, slipping through the cracks and never receiving proper treatment. But even when an older adult shows signs of an eating disorder that those closest to them notice, it can be difficult to breach the subject. They are not children, have their own lives and responsibilities, and often are responsible for caring for others—making family and friends feel intrusive for talking about eating disorder treatment. And while the subject can be tricky to tackle, research shows that early intervention for eating disorders is the key to long-term recovery.

How Do Eating Disorders Develop in Middle Age and Beyond?

Eating disorders are very complex mental health conditions that are influenced by a wide variety of factors. While the exact cause of eating disorders is unknown, experts in the field believe that a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors are likely to contribute to the development of common eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia nervosa, as well as binge eating disorder.

Common biological factors include:

  • Genetics (studies indicate that if an individual has a family history of eating disorders, they are more likely to develop a similar condition)
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Irregular hormone functions

Common psychological factors include:

  • Negative body image
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
  • Depression
  • Panic disorder
  • Substance abuse

Common environmental factors that may contribute include:

  • Dysfunctional family dynamic
  • Family and childhood trauma (including physical and/or sexual abuse)
  • Participation in certain sports or professions that promote an “ideal” body shape
  • Peer pressure
  • Cultural ideals
  • Major life changes
  • Pressure from a family member or spouse

Examples of aesthetically oriented sports, where an emphasis is placed on achieving a specific body type for enhanced performance include:

  • Gymnastics
  • Ballet
  • Rowing
  • Wrestling
  • Long-distance running
  • Swimming
  • Diving

Developing an eating disorder as an adult can be a very different experience than that of someone who had disordered eating habits as a teen or young adult. Older adults are much more likely to develop anorexia nervosa than other common eating disorders like bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder. Restricting calories and excessive exercise are both common signs of anorexia nervosa development but for many men and women in their mid-40s and 50s, these can often be confused with proactive and positive health habits.

Some of the most common signs of anorexia nervosa that loved ones may notice include:

  • Ritualistic eating habits
  • Defensiveness regarding eating or exercise habits
  • Maintaining a rigid exercise routine, even when they are ill, during inclement weather or following an injury
  • The development of osteoporosis
  • Intolerance to cold temperatures
  • Dizziness and fainting spells
  • Thinning hair or hair loss

Eating Disorder Treatment Options for Adults

For those who have been exhibiting common eating disorder warning signs or have already received an eating disorder diagnosis, there is a wide variety of treatment options available. Many modern eating disorder recovery centers offer integrated treatment plans that are designed to target issues experienced by older adults and those with co-occurring disorders like anorexia nervosa and substance abuse or depression. But because eating disorders develop differently as people age, it’s important to consider all options before settling on a treatment program. Additionally, because of work and family commitments, it may be best for older adults to consider eating disorder treatment centers that offer outpatient and day treatment programs as well.

Common Types of Adult Eating Disorder Programs

Medical Hospitalization 

This type of care is the most intensive and involves 24-hour care in a medical hospital. Medical hospitalization is typically for patients who are not medically stable and need access to around-the-clock medical monitoring. Medical care in this type of treatment program often includes constant monitoring of vital signs, intravenous fluids, tube feeds and more.

Residential Treatment 

While less intensive than medial hospitalization, residential treatment also provides 24-hour care for clients. Here, individuals who are medically stable but still require 24-hr supervision where staff will watch over their behaviors and meals. This type of treatment may combine medical care with psychiatric counseling as well.

Partial Hospitalization 

This is a much less intensive treatment option that allows for individuals to sleep at home and attend day treatment counseling at their recovery center. Typically, participants are required to attend this type of program for a minimum of 5 days a week, ranging from 6 to 11 hours per day. They also typically eat most meals at the treatment center, but as time progresses, and they feel comfortable, they can take some meals at home.

Intensive Outpatient Treatment

While this treatment option aims to combine many of the practices available in other more intensive treatment programs, it usually includes as little as 3 hours of programming for 2 to 3 days a week. At this level of care, individuals are comfortably able to live at home and are typically given the all-clear by their medical and psychiatric team to work and/or attend school. However, at least one meal or snack is mandatory during their treatment sessions.

Outpatient Treatment 

This is the most relaxed form of eating disorder treatment available and is often recommended for those who have already completed a more intensive recovery program. Outpatient treatment sessions typically include individual meetings once or twice a week with a therapist and/or nutritionist.

When most people think of common eating disorders like anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, they imagine them only afflicting teenage girls or young women. But this is not the case. Eating disorders do not discriminate based on age or sex and affect people of all ages, genders, ethnicities, body sizes, and socioeconomic statuses. One group that is often neglected in media portrayals of people with eating disorders and research studies is middle-aged adults. Typically, middle-age is defined as above 40 years old and research shows that individuals in this age group can also receive an eating disorder diagnosis. Whether this is a new development for some, or an individual is experiencing a reoccurrence of eating disorder behaviors that they thought were long gone, these are serious health issues that can have lasting effects.

Contact Oliver-Pyatt Centers Today

What Do Eating Disorders Mean for Those Who Develop Them Later in Life?

Eating disorders have the highest mortality rate out of any known mental health condition, including depression and substance abuse. However, because they are often an invisible illness, many people with an eating disorder diagnosis go unnoticed by friends and family, slipping through the cracks and never receiving proper treatment. But even when an older adult shows signs of an eating disorder that those closest to them notice, it can be difficult to breach the subject. They are not children, have their own lives and responsibilities, and often are responsible for caring for others—making family and friends feel intrusive for talking about eating disorder treatment. And while the subject can be tricky to tackle, research shows that early intervention for eating disorders is the key to long-term recovery.

How Do Eating Disorders Develop in Middle-Age and Beyond?

Eating disorders are very complex mental health conditions that are influenced by a wide variety of factors. While the exact cause of eating disorders is unknown, experts in the field believe that a combination of psychological, biological, and environmental factors are likely to contribute to the development of common eating disorders like anorexia and bulimia nervosa, as well as binge eating disorder.

Common biological factors include:

  • Genetics (studies indicate that if an individual has a family history of eating disorders, they are more likely to develop a similar condition)
  • Nutritional deficiencies
  • Irregular hormone functions

Common psychological factors include:

  • Negative body image
  • Poor self-esteem
  • Narcissistic personality disorder
  • Depression
  • Panic disorder
  • Substance abuse

Common environmental factors that may contribute include:

  • Dysfunctional family dynamic
  • Family and childhood trauma (including physical and/or sexual abuse)
  • Participation in certain sports or professions that promote an “ideal” body shape
  • Peer pressure
  • Cultural ideals
  • Major life changes
  • Pressure from a family member or spouse

Examples of aesthetically oriented sports, where an emphasis is placed on achieving a specific body type for enhanced performance include:

  • Gymnastics
  • Ballet
  • Rowing
  • Wrestling
  • Long-distance running
  • Swimming
  • Diving

Developing an eating disorder as an adult can be a very different experience than that of someone who had disordered eating habits as a teen or young adult. Older adults are much more likely to develop anorexia nervosa than other common eating disorders like bulimia nervosa or binge eating disorder. Restricting calories and excessive exercise are both common signs of anorexia nervosa development but for many men and women in their mid-40s and 50s, these can often be confused with proactive and positive health habits.

Some of the most common signs of anorexia nervosa that loved ones may notice include:

  • Ritualistic eating habits
  • Defensiveness regarding eating or exercise habits
  • Maintaining a rigid exercise routine, even when they are ill, during inclement weather or following an injury
  • The development of osteoporosis
  • An intolerance to cold temperatures
  • Dizziness and fainting spells
  • Thinning hair or hair loss

Eating Disorder Treatment Options for Adults

For those who have been exhibiting common eating disorder warning signs or have already received an eating disorder diagnosis, there is a wide variety of treatment options available. Many modern eating disorder recovery centers offer integrated treatment plans that are designed to target issues experienced by older adults and those with co-occurring disorders like anorexia nervosa and substance abuse or depression. But because eating disorders develop differently as people age, it’s important to consider all options before settling on a treatment program. Additionally, because of work and family commitments, it may be best for older adults to consider eating disorder treatment centers that offer outpatient and day treatment programs as well.

Eating Disorder Treatment Options for Adults

For those who have been exhibiting common eating disorder warning signs or have already received an eating disorder diagnosis, there is a wide variety of treatment options available. Many modern eating disorder recovery centers offer integrated treatment plans that are designed to target issues experienced by older adults and those with co-occurring disorders like anorexia nervosa and substance abuse or depression. But because eating disorders develop differently as people age, it’s important to consider all options before settling on a treatment program. Additionally, because of work and family commitments, it may be best for older adults to consider eating disorder treatment centers that offer outpatient and day treatment programs as well.

Contact Oliver-Pyatt Centers Today

At Oliver-Pyatt Centers, we are proud to provide our clients with access to the highest level of psychiatric and medical care outside a hospital setting. Our team of experienced staff is dedicated to helping our clients and their families discover the tools they need to navigate an eating disorder diagnosis in middle-age and beyond. Interested in learning more about the eating disorder recovery services we offer? Please give us a call at 1.866.202.8260 to speak with one of our friendly admissions specialists or contact us today for more information.

 

Carrie Hunnicutt

With 20 years of behavioral health business development experience, Carrie combines world-class marketing, media, public relations, outreach and business development with a deep understanding of client care and treatment. Her contributions to the world of behavioral health business development – and particularly eating disorder treatment – go beyond simple marketing; she has actively developed leaders for her organizations and for the industry at large.

Oliver-Pyatt Centers is grounded in mindfulness and the belief that each person has the capacity for a mindful relationship with food and their body. Present in every aspect of our program, this philosophy encompasses nutrition and eating, as well as movement, with an emphasis on becoming free from negative habits, behaviors and rigidity. We work from a place of empathy and wisdom, using a medically grounded, psychologically gentle approach.

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(866) 511-4325

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FOR ADMINISTRATIVE INQUIRIES

For administrative inquiries (Billing, Human Resources, Information Technology, Finance, Vendor) please call or email Monte Nido & Affiliates at 305-663-1876 or admissions@montenidoaffiliates.com

Monte Nido & Affiliates Administrative Mailing Address:
6100 SW 76th Street
Miami, FL 33143

Fax: 305-424-7448

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