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Learn More During Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month

November 8th, 2018

By: Lenora Alabi

Nina’s elderly aunt was just diagnosed with celiac disease and the doctor told them they would need to make some diet changes as part of the treatment. Nina didn’t know anything about celiac disease and felt overwhelmed as she was the woman’s primary caregiver. Fortunately, the resources available for this year’s Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month gave Nina several community contacts, plus ideas on how to keep her aging aunt gluten-free, healthy and happy.

November is Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month, designed to highlight celiac disease and educate Americans on the symptoms and treatment. Until recently celiac disease was understood to be a condition that manifested early in life, showing up in children and young adults. Studies now reveal that celiac disease can appear in elderly adults, even if they have been free of it for their younger years. Nearly a quarter of all new cases of celiac disease are discovered in seniors, making it very important that family caregivers pay attention to symptoms and participate in treatment.

Cause and Consequences of Celiac Disease in Seniors

Celiac disease takes place when the body ingests gluten, a protein found in many grains like rye and wheat. The presence of gluten triggers the body to attack the small intestine. Over time, the small intestine becomes damaged, affecting how it absorbs nutrients from ingested food. The symptoms are usually severe, ranging from bloating and gas to diarrhea and vomiting.

Too many seniors with celiac disease are not properly diagnosed, with symptoms being confused for other age-related conditions. They often suffer with celiac disease without knowing that the food they eat is the source of their distress. Over the long-term, celiac disease left untreated can open the door to health issues like anemia, joint pain, chronic fatigue and even gastrointestinal cancer. The senior will also suffer from nutrient deficiencies, driving their overall health down.

Following a Gluten-Free Diet

There is no cure for celiac disease to date, and there is only one treatment—to adopt a gluten-free diet. Without the presence of gluten, the body no longer targets the intestines. However, because gluten is so prevalent in the American culture and cuisine, it takes a lot of planning and discipline to live a gluten-free life. It is especially difficult for elderly adults who are dependent on family caregivers and others to prepare their meals.

One solution that many families have found is to hire a senior care provider. Senior care providers assist elderly adults with several tasks in their home, such as laundry, housekeeping, taking out the trash and running errands. Senior care providers can also do meal planning and preparation and have experience with specialty diets. They will be able to plan nutritious meals with healthy ingredients that do not include gluten. Elderly adults with celiac disease that are not physically able to take care of themselves and their meal plans will certainly benefit from having a senior care provider around to assist.

IF YOU OR AN AGING LOVED ONE ARE CONSIDERING HIRING SENIOR CARE IN RIVER NORTH, IL, PLEASE CONTACT THE CARING STAFF AT BRIGHTSTAR CARE CHICAGO. CALL TODAY: 312.382.8888.