Recognizing eating disorders in the elderly can be critical because treating them is different than treating other age-related eating problems. Dr. Laura Hanson from the division of geriatrics offers perspective.

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Dr. Laura Hanson

Dr. Laura Hanson was recently interviewed for a US News & World Report article about eating disorders in the elderly.

“When an older person is struggling to eat, it almost always has an underlying medical cause,” said Dr. Laura Hanson, professor of geriatric medicine in the department of medicine, and director of UNC Palliative Care Program.

Medicine side effects, dulled taste buds, physical limitations, economic barriers, dementia and depression are identified as reasons that healthy eating can be difficult, unenjoyable or both. According to Hanson, “some older adults, too, may naturally eat less as they become less active, which can be a health and effective weight-management strategy.”

On the other hand, the article says not to assume overweight older adults can’t have eating disorders or nutrition problems. “If somebody looks frail, doctors, family members and friends are going to be alerted and concerned…we see many older adults who are heavyset and yet in nutritional decline,” said Hanson.

To read the article visit: US News & World Report.