Many Elderly Don’t Feel Lovable as Nature Takes its Course

Emilane hadn’t eaten much all day. I offered her a bite of the chocolate ice cream that was in her freezer. With great effort, Emilane pulled herself up in bed, took the oxygen tubing out of her nose and said, “No thank you, I feel best at 112 pounds.” She straightened her blankets and muttered with confidence, “I have good self control.” I would guess she weighed around 120 pounds. Emilane didn’t want to get fat.

At 89, Emilane was in the last three months of her life, she was dying from lung cancer. She had been living alone for six years. She was still furious that her husband died on their sixty-fifth wedding anniversary.

In her younger years, women were judged by physical appearance and relationship status. So “staying thin” was the only control she thought she had over how others perceived her. Sadly, the only visitors that came were hospice staff and the kind folks who delivered meals.

Body issues of our youth do not dissipate as we get older. Body issues simply evolve into different types of fears about how we are perceived by others. Women and men well into their eighties suffer from self consciousness, body dissatisfaction, and low self esteem. It’s not surprising that there is a growing trend in late onset eating disorders. Many of our elderly do not feel lovable as nature takes its course.

How do we help each other in a culture that can’t get passed superficial appearance?

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