Celiac Disease for caregivers of the elderly

Celiac Disease and Aging

Olivia Jones is psychologist and entrepreneur from Brisbane. Mother of two beautiful children and proud owner of two silly boxer dogs, Teo and Mia. She is passionate about writing and always inspiring her readers to be clever in their lives. Her motto is “Be the change you want to see in the world”.

Some autoimmune diseases aren’t accurately diagnosed until the ‘golden years;’ Celiac Disease is one of these. People may have had symptoms for years, but the symptoms may have been too vague to make a definitive diagnosis.

Caregivers of Celiac patients need to recognize many of it’s nearly 200 symptoms, reporting them to the doctor. If you are the caregiver or if you are new to Celiac Disease in older adults, read on to find out ways to help older adults manage this disease.

Know the symptoms

As people age, Celiac’s gastrointestinal symptoms (bloating, diarrhea and cramps, amongst others) are often attributed to normal aging or an upset stomach, so they may have received sub-optimal treatment. Also, since many medication can cause an inability to absorb nutrients properly, the Celiac patient’s health may decline.

Throughout the years, this mis-management may have led to unnecessary medications being added. Studies have shown that many subtle and not-so-subtle symptoms go unnoticed, disregarded or poorly managed for 17 years on average.

Diet changes

The most significant dietary change involves gluten: it just became a ‘no-no-.’ What is gluten? Gluten is a protein found in many grains. As the caregiver who is likely to be doing the marketing you’ll need to be very careful when reading food labels, ensuring that every ingredient on the menu is truly labeled as “gluten-free”. Seeing a professional nutritionist is mandatory.

Elderly patients often take nutritional supplements because they may have osteoporosis and nutrient deficiencies and they usually benefit from these. However, the shopper must be aware that supplements can also contain trace or ‘hidden’ gluten. Condiments, iced cream and processed foods can also be sources of hidden gluten.

There may come a time when family members need help managing this disease; your loved ones might benefit from in-home care services which offer quality meals with all their limitations. Any family gatherings may be a challenge because gatherings tend to involve food. Even though hostesses may make a gluten-free menu, seniors still want to eat their like their old family recipes. So this diet transition can be hard on them, hard on you! Please have patience with them.

Budget concerns

Another issue with the gluten-free diet is expense; especially  while seniors are still learning what to eat, what not to eat and discovering which foods they like. They may be wondering, “how am I going to afford this?

One way to lower the cost is to purchase goods online! Many websites like offer discounts and less-expensive alternatives to store-bought items. Or purchase an Amazon Prime ® membership and order from their Pantry. Some very good gluten-free bargains can be had there! Most Celiac diets revolve around plenty of vegetables and fruits, but canned (gluten-free, of course) can be just as healthy, and much more affordable.

But, seniors don’t need to stick to pre-packed and processed gluten-free products. Instead, caregivers can help find natural gluten-free foods, find proper substitutions, and help manage their budget with new dietary restrictions. They’ll really need your help as they transition to a diet with NO wheat or wheat products!

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