Entries in Older Adults (6)


Eating Disorders Common in Older Women, Study Finds

George Doyle/Stockbyte/Thinkstock(CHAPEL HILL, N.C.) -- Eating disorders have no boundaries when it comes to age, according to a new study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders.

While people may associate eating disorders with teen girls and young women, there may be a growing number of older people who experience the same struggles.

Researchers from the University of North Carolina surveyed more than 1,800 women 50 and older to see how many had eating disorders and to assess the impact of disordered eating in women who engaged in these practices.  Sixty-two percent of the women reported that their weight negatively impacted their lives, 8 percent reported purging and 70 percent said they were in the process of dieting or trying to lose weight.

This study “really busts the myths that disordered eating is the province of adolescent and young adult women,” said Dr. Cynthia Bulik, director of the University of North Carolina Eating Disorders Program and lead author of the study.  “We have very little clinical research on mid- and late-life eating disorders.  The most important thing for clinicians is to keep eating disorders on their radar screen regardless of a patient’s age.”

The women reportedly turned to several unhealthy methods of weight loss, including diet pills, diuretics, laxatives, vomiting and excessive exercise.

Whether there is more awareness and diagnoses remains unclear, but researchers said eating disorders can be “common” among women over 50.

The triggers may be different among different age groups, but traumatic life events tend to trigger or contribute to eating disorders, no matter the age, according to experts at the National Eating Disorders Association (NEDA).  When an older person experiences the illness, it is usually because an earlier eating disorder has resurfaced, but not always.  Disorders can be triggered by divorce, death of a loved one or children moving away.

“It can be hard to come forward because some older patients are concerned about the stigma of having a younger person’s disorder, but we know that eating disorders persist into older adulthood, eating disorders relapse during older adulthood and we know that late onset occurs, too,” said William Walters, helpline manager at NEDA.

“Late onset isn’t at all surprising,” he added.  “Midlife can be hard, and just as difficult a transition as the teens and early adulthood, in its own way.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Older Adults Pick Better Online Passwords

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The old adage, “With age comes wisdom,” continues to be true, even in this youth-oriented tech-savvy world. A new study finds that people over the age of 55 are far better at choosing secure passwords than teens and young adults.

In a study conducted by the University of Cambridge, computer scientist Joseph Bonneau analyzed password data from 70 million Yahoo users and found the passwords of older adults are twice as strong as those under the age of 25.

The study also discovered that people who changed their passwords frequently were more likely to have stronger passwords.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Sleep May Improve with Age, Study Suggests

BananaStock/Thinkstock(PHILADELPHIA) -- While it's a common belief that getting older means less sleep and more fatigue, a new study suggests that older adults may actually enjoy better sleep than their younger counterparts.

Researchers conducted phone surveys of more than 150,000 Americans and found that people in their 80s had the fewest complaints about sleep disturbances and daytime fatigue compared to other age groups.  The study appears in the March edition of the journal Sleep.

Reports of poor sleep were associated with health problems and depression, and women said they had more sleep disturbances and were more tired than men.  The quality of sleep improved throughout the life span, although there was a small increase in sleep difficulties during middle age.

"These results suggest that the often-reported increase in sleep problems is a non-linear phenomenon, mediated by factors other than physiologic aging," wrote the authors, led by Michael Grandner of the Center for Sleep and Circadian Neurobiology at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia.

While older adults in this study reported having less trouble sleeping, previous research has found that the total amount of sleep generally decreased with age by around 10 minutes per decade.  The same research also found that older adults experienced less slow-wave sleep, considered by some experts to be "good" sleep.

"This highlights the difference between what we see when we look at someone's sleep and what they tell us when we ask about their sleep," Grandner told ABC News in an email, and there could be a number of reasons for the discrepancy.

"Perhaps with other pain or health issues going on, especially if they have been going on for a long time, which is common in older age, those older people don't really see their sleep as a problem, compared to everything else," Grandner said.  "They might also have attitudes and beliefs about sleep that don't place much importance on getting a good night's sleep.  After all, we live in a 'sleep when I'm dead' society that seems to think that sleep is for sissies."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Survey: At What Age Are You Thought of as Old?

Comstock/Thinkstock(POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y.) -- When do you consider someone to be "old"?  If you were born between 1946 and 1964, chances are you don't consider yourself to be an elder just yet.

A study released this week by the Marist Institute for Public Opinion -- conducted for Home Instead Senior Care -- found that Baby Boomers consider someone to be old when they are 77 years old.  The age drops to 71 among Generation X and 62 among Generation Y.

The Greatest Generation -- those born between 1901 and 1924 -- however, bumps the age up to 81.

Among genders, women consider old to be 76 and up, while men say it's 70.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Eating Disorders Not Just for White Teen Girls

Comstock/Thinkstock (MIAMI) -- At the peak of her eating disorder, Stephanie Covington Armstrong threw up 15 times a day. Any food in her stomach made her uncomfortable, and it was only when she vomited that "everything was right with the world," even if it was only five minutes until she would do it again. It was like crack, she said. Drugs and alcohol seemed messy but binging and purging offered that same high; the kind of high that would take away the self-hatred that constantly weighed her down.

For seven years, Armstrong's bulimia was her deepest secret. And as a black woman, Armstrong said, carrying the stigma of an eating disorder was even worse.

"There is that shame of not being a strong black woman," said Armstrong, a Los Angeles playwright and author of the book Not All Black Girls Know How to Eat. "People would ask me, 'What, do you want to be white or something?'"

More than 10 million Americans suffer from some kind of eating disorder, and many of them are not white, young or female, according to the National Eating Disorders Association.

Dr. Wendy Oliver-Pyatt, executive director of the Oliver-Pyatt Centers in Florida, said that, at any given time, at least half of her patients are not what society typically thinks of someone having an eating disorder: people older then 40, mothers, men and minorities.

"Minorities, men and older people have an even more difficult time," said Oliver-Pyatt, speaking on behalf of the National Eating Disorders Association. "It's almost culturally accepted for a young white woman to have an eating disorder."

Oliver-Pyatt said that many older female patients who come to her clinic actually did not fully recover from an eating disorder in their early years. She said many of this subgroup of women had a bad experience while receiving treatment for their condition in their 20s and teens. And now, many of these women fly under the doctor's radar for eating disorders.

"A couple years ago, treatment was very institutional-based," Oliver-Pyatt said. "They had a bad experience and were afraid to receive further treatment."

More than one million men and boys battle eating disorders every day, according to the National Eating Disorders Association. And, many doctors argue, the stigma for a man is worse than that of teenage girl.

While many people say that eating disorders are a way of responding to lack of control in one's life, Oliver-Pyatt said, such an explanation is oversimplifying the seriousness of the illness.

If you or someone you know might suffer from an eating disorder, contact the Information and Referral Helpline at the National Eating Disorder Association by calling (800) 931-2237.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio 


Hearing Loss Greater After Age 70, Hearing Aid Use Low

Photo Courteys - Getty Images(BALTIMORE) -- Sixty-three percent of Americans age 70 and older experience significant hearing loss, according to a new study published online in the Journal of Gerontology: Medical Sciences.

Researchers at Johns Hopkins University studied 717 people over 70 years old and found that of the participants with hearing loss, 64 percent were white, while African-Americans with loss of hearing made up only 43 percent of the sample.  Researchers further concluded that African-Americans only had about a third of the chance of having hearing loss compared with whites after looking at age, noise exposure and other considerations associated with hearing loss.

The study authors were not able to determine a reason why older white people have a greater chance of hearing loss.

The study also found that only about 20 percent of older adults actually use a hearing aid, despite the high rate of hearing loss among this age group.

"Any way you cut it, the rates of hearing aid use are phenomenally low," said study researcher Frank Lin, MD, PhD.

Lin and his colleagues reported in the study that hearing aid use appeared to be dependent upon the severity of hearing loss.  Only three percent of people with mild hearing loss said they used a hearing aid, compared to 41 percent with moderate or severe hearing loss.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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