Though drinking caffeinated beverages in moderation may have little to no effect on most seniors, an overabundance of this compound can lead to a host of serious health complications. Placer County senior home care experts have put together a list of possible health risks for your elderly loved one if he or she consumes too much caffeine.
Just two cups of coffee per day can increase your loved one’s risk of osteoporosis and bone fractures. A 2001 study published in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition found dietary caffeine consumption acutely increases the loss of calcium through urine. When bones lack calcium, they can become brittle and break more easily. While younger people are often able to add more dairy to their diets to make up for the loss of calcium, the body doesn’t replace calcium as quickly in older adults.
High Blood Pressure
Because caffeine is a stimulant, it increases central nervous system activity, which can lead to the narrowing of blood vessels. When the blood vessels narrow, the heart has to work harder to pump blood through them, increasing blood pressure levels. High blood pressure can lead to heart disease, heart attacks, kidney disease, and strokes.
Anxiety and Stress
If your loved one already experiences high levels of stress and anxiety, caffeine can intensify these feelings. Caffeine stimulates the release of several stress hormones, such as norepinephrine, cortisol, epinephrine, and glucocorticoids. The prolonged release of these hormones can increase your loved one’s stress and anxiety. Stress and anxiety have been shown to play a role in a suppressed immune system, difficulty in digestion, and the development of headaches.
Caffeine is a diuretic, meaning it causes the body to increase the flow of urine. When too much water is expelled from the body, dehydration can result. Dehydration is one of the most common electrolyte and fluid problems in the elderly. Because the signs are often mistaken for other problems, family caregivers in Placer County often don’t realize their senior loved ones are dehydrated. If your loved one is ill, it’s especially important to limit his or her caffeine intake. The decrease in fluid intake that normally occurs during an illness combined with the diuretic properties of caffeine can result in severe dehydration.
Before making any significant changes to your loved one’s diet, make sure to speak with his or her physician. If your loved one needs help maintaining an approved diet plan, reach out to Home Care Assistance. Our caregivers are expertly trained to help seniors with their nutritional needs and can assist with a wide variety of other tasks as well. We also offer comprehensive Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, and post-stroke care in Placer County. For more information on how proper nutrition can promote your loved one’s wellbeing, call one of our knowledgeable Care Managers at 916.226.3737 to schedule a free in-home consultation.