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  • What is Anorexia Nervosa? Eating Disorders Explained

10. Gazewood JD, Mehr DR. Diagnosis and management of weight loss in the elderly. J Fam Pract. 1998;47(1):19-25.

10 Symptoms of Anorexia - Sudden, deliberate weight loss

Anorexia and Weight Loss | 123 E-Forum Buyers Network …

Define anorexia: loss of appetite especially when prolonged; anorexia nervosa
Pinpointing the Cause
Clinicians conscientiously should seek common treatable causes of weight loss in the elderly.3 An initial approach is to distinguish among the four basic causes of weight loss: anorexia, dysphagia, socioeconomic factors, and weight loss despite normal intake, although these causes often are interrelated.3,10 Whatever assessment or diagnostic approach is used, the initial evaluation can yield a reason for weight loss in most patients.3,11

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Various medications have been implicated as the cause of nausea and vomiting, dysphagia, dysgeusia, and anorexia. Polypharmacy can cause unintended weight loss but so can a reduction in psychotropic medication by unmasking previously controlled anxiety or paranoia.3


Anorexia | Definition of Anorexia by Merriam-Webster

Unique Concerns
Some challenges specific to the elderly may be difficult for the clinician to diagnose. Medical problems may exist that affect elderly patients’ ability to consume food, such as infections, stomach or bowel problems, loss of teeth or poorly fitting dentures that make it painful to chew and eat, a loss of smell and/or taste, swallowing problems, medications that reduce or alter appetite, alcohol addiction, dementia-related memory problems that affect the ability to remember whether and when they’ve eaten, and various wasting diseases, such as cancer and other chronic illnesses. They also may be adversely affected by social problems, such as an inability to shop for groceries, cook meals, or even feed themselves as well as poverty, social isolation, or elder abuse in which a caregiver deliberately and maliciously withholds adequate food.2

Older patients who depend on others for their daily care are more likely to suffer unintended weight loss than those who are demented but less dependent on others or by those who aren’t demented.9 It’s important to recognize that a loss of 5% to 10% of body weight in the previous one to 12 months may indicate a serious problem in an elderly patient, and this degree of weight loss shouldn’t be considered a normal consequence of the aging process.3

Anorexia - Symptoms, Warning Signs and Side Effects …

Unfortunately, eating disorders in the institutionalized elderly frequently are overlooked or missed by health care professionals, with potentially grave consequences. Conscientious, disciplined attention must be paid to fluctuations in weight, especially losses; daily balanced food intake, especially total calories, protein, vitamins, micronutrients, and fiber; activities of daily living, especially caring for personal appearance and hygiene; cognitive and social engagement; mood, attitude, and temperament; and maintenance of moderate exercise and physical activity to keep or stimulate appetite.3

anorexia nervosa - Eating Disorder Hope

The differential diagnosis of unintended weight loss in the elderly can be extensive.3 The most common causes identified include psychotic disorders (depression), cancer, and benign gastrointestinal disorders.3 Pulmonary diseases, cardiovascular disorders (especially congestive heart failure), alcoholism, dementia, and prescribed medications also have contributed to the problem.4 Although acute and chronic physical and psychiatric disorders account for unexplained weight loss in most elderly patients, other psychological and social factors may be involved.5,6 However, no cause was apparent or discovered in about 24% of 45 ambulatory patients, according to one study.7

10 Symptoms of Anorexia Nervosa - RM Healthy

The primary factor underlying anorexia in younger individuals is the distress caused by a distorted self-perception of body image, which is of less importance in the elderly. More prevalent factors that can lead to elderly anorexia or other eating disorders include alterations in taste and smell, especially secondary to medications; incompletely treated psychological problems persisting from younger years; cognitive and memory impairment; attention seeking; loss of a loved one, especially the person who prepared and shared meals, which may induce feelings of isolation and loneliness that can escalate to depression; refusing to eat as the only remaining form of control; rejecting food as a protest against relatives or caregivers; and even a conscious or subconscious attempt at suicide to escape depression, their environment, and/or feelings of despair.2

Anorexia nervosa symptoms, causes, treatments

The causes of weight loss in ambulatory patients may differ from those of long term care facility residents.3 In one study, depression was identified in 36% of nursing home residents with unintentional weight loss.8 In another study, overall, psychiatric disorders, including depression, accounted for 58% of the cases of involuntary weight loss in nursing home patients.3 Lower socioeconomic status and functional disabilities also can contribute to involuntary weight loss in elderly patients.5