Caregivers in Tequesta FL: The Effects of Caffeine on the Elderly
March brings us National Caffeine Awareness Month. This health campaign is designed to bring attention to the importance of “making informed decisions regarding caffeinated products." While seniors are known to drink their share of coffee, too much of a good thing turns out to be a bad thing. As a caregiver, you are at the front lines in numerous health decisions. Is your parent overindulging in sweets, alcohol or caffeine? In many instances, only you will know.
Excessive consumption of coffee is known to cause many side effects, many of which are more pronounced in the elderly. These include:
- Increased blood pressure. A study conducted at the Athens Medical School in Greece found that participants, all of whom were being treated for high blood pressure, had a jump in the stiffness of their arteries thirty minutes after consuming caffeine and lasting for three hours.
- Decreased calcium absorption, contributing to bone loss. Drinking three cups of coffee per day, or more, is shown to interfere with calcium absorption. Those that have been diagnosed with osteoporosis should abstain.
- Anxiety. As a stimulant, caffeine increases heart rate which in turn can lead to nervousness, agitation and anxiety.
- Sleeplessness. Caffeine blocks sleep-inducing chemicals and increases adrenaline production.
- Dehydration. Dehydration in seniors can cause lightheadedness, leading to an increased risk in falls. As a caregiver, make sure your loved one always has a glass of water by their side and that they are drinking at least eight glasses per day.
The Good News
Caffeine and the elderly have been shown to have a beneficial relationship. A British study of over 9,000 individuals found that there was an increase in cognitive performance with higher levels of coffee consumption. In addition to cognitive performance and attention span, long-term memory and psychomotor performance also showed improvement.
What is even more surprising is the correlation of coffee and Alzheimer’s. Studies have shown that coffee may delay or avoid the onset of Alzheimer’s even in those that are exhibiting signs of mild cognitive impairment. Researchers believe that caffeine blocks inflammation in the brain and may prevent the entanglement of some of the proteins linked to Alzheimer’s.
How Much is Too Much?
Most studies suggest no more than three cups of coffee per day. It’s important to remember that caffeine is found in a number of other foods and beverages including soft drinks, tea, and chocolate and consideration of these in the diet is important to the overall amount of coffee consumed. In addition, if your loved one has high blood pressure, osteoporosis, anxiety or sleeplessness, they may be more susceptible to caffeine’s’ effects and will need to limit its consumption. Make sure your parent has a diet rich in calcium to counteract any of coffee’s tendency to decrease the absorption of this important mineral.
If you or an aging loved one are considering caregivers in Tequesta, FL, contact the caring staff at BrightStar Care of Jupiter. Call today (561) 741-1200.