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Adults with anorexia often have distinctive traits that lock them into a destructive relationship with food. Carrie Arnold discovers how those same traits could help them escape it. Heather Purdin had run out of options. Aged 33, she had been suffering from anorexia nervosa for more than two decades and her weight had plummeted to that of a small child, an all-time low for her. Her case worker, out of frustration and desperation, suggested hospice care as a way to spend her remaining days in relative comfort.
Unspecified type: F Restricting type: F Anorexia nervosa AN is part of a cluster of diagnoses called the feeding and eating disorders. Feeding and eating disorders are a group of psychiatric conditions that include:.
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.