Introduction: Eating Disorder in over 70’s
Eating disorders are primarily concerned with the actions and thoughts related to food intake, and include anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa, and binge eating. Much of the information on eating disorders in Korea confirms expectations. According to a study done by the Health Insurance Review Agency, female patients of eating disorders (ED) outnumber males 9 times. For specific details on the gender makeup, females comprised 77% to 81.1% of patients, while men accounted for 18.9% to 23%. In a social environment that emphasizes appearance and the comodification of “healthy living,” there has been a resulting increase in EDs. From 2008 to 2012, the total number of patients increased from 10,940 to 13,002 people. The average annual growth rate was 4.5%. A surprising trend, however, can be seen when filtering cases by age. Interestingly, in 2012, 17.4% of all ED patients were aged 70 years and up. This actually makes elderly patients the second largest group out of all ED patients. This goes against the idea of who most people believe are the only people affected by EDs- i.e., young women at an impressionable age. Still, we cannot assume that EDs begin and evolve the same way for both younger and older patients
The causes of EDs are related to genetics, but often times lie outside of biological factors, attributed more often to social and psychological factors such as stress and the marketing of cheap high-caloric foods. Cases of ED in the elderly present their patients with a unique set of concerns, due to their age. An important fact to remember is that as the population ages, their citizens requires a greater share of public service. As developed and post-industrial nations have seen the decline of the extended family, care of the elderly has moved from being a family responsibility, to a social responsibility. The nuclear family, consisting of one couple and their children, can often only afford to care for its immediate members. This is only exacerbated by the high costs of nursing care for elderly family members, depending on the degree of care needed. For the elderly, the single most important determinant of quality of life is health. A Person whose health is negatively affected by EDs will lead shorter and less satisfactory lives than those who report good health, and the capability to pursue desired activities. Especially among the elderly, health matters tend to affect all other areas of living. As the population of Korea continues to age, this can only become a greater social issue. In treating EDs, the primary goal is obviously the correction of dietary habits. To accomplish this, patients may utilize cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), individual psychotherapy, family therapy, and appropriate medication. Besides dietary habits, doctors may target repairing low self-esteem and depression as well. But even with all of
these well-meaning and beneficial treatments, this approach is still an example of tertiary prevention, which seeks to merely minimize deterioration in those who are already ill.
The aim of this paper is to analyze disordered eating in the elderly, to determine sociological factors that lead to it, and to suggest better policies and treatments that focus on these factors. If government and medical institutions utilize primary prevention, it may lead to better treatment, or lesson the problem as a whole.
Health Belief Model and Eating Disorder
Susceptibility can be defined as the degree to which one believes he or she is susceptible to a health threat. In Most cases, the elderly (>70) are unaware of their eating habits and find their behaviors less important. According to a 2006 study funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), about 0.5 to 3.7 percent of women across all ages will develop anorexia nervosa over the course of their lifetime. Denial is usually due to them overestimating...
References: Marshall H. Becker, Lois A. Maiman, John P. Kirscht, Don P. Haefner and Robert H. Drachman, (1977), The Health
Belief Model and Prediction of Dietary Compliance: A Field Experiment, American Sociological Association.
TheChoSunIlBo. (2013, July 23). Eating Disorders Spread Among People Over 40.
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