Elders and Food Allergies: Caregiver Tips for Safe Meals

When you hear about food allergies, you may think of a peanut-free lunchroom at your child’s school. Food allergies are common with infants and children, and can be outgrown.

Did you know as many as 1 in 10 adults over the age of 60 have food allergies and half develop them later in life?  It is likely that many cases of food allergies are undiagnosed, making the actual number much higher.

Food allergies affect the immune system. Essentially, when an elder eats a food that he is allergic to, the body responds by “attacking” the food as it would a bacteria or virus.  This causes an immune response that may show up as hives, abdominal pain or even anaphylatic shock.

Caring for someone with food allergies is all about management. There is no cure and the only proven treatment is to avoid the allergen food.  Even the smallest amount of an allergen food can cause a major reaction.

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Alcohol and Chronic Disease - Safe or Sorry?

Alcohol use among older adults has been rising steadily over the past few decades. By 2020, it is estimated that 5.7 million seniors will use or misuse alcohol. The reasons that elders choose to drink vary. One thing is certain, it becomes a dangerous combination for those with chronic conditions.

Increased health care costs associated with alcohol use in Medicare patients topped over $26 billion in 2006. Medical and related expenses were even higher for older adults with chronic conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, kidney disease and others.

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Hot or Not? Keeping Elders Hydrated in the Summer Heat

Record high temperatures are gripping much of our country.  While the heat may be uncomfortable to many of us, for the elders in our care it can be down-right dangerous.

Growing older, certain medications and chronic disease affect the body’s ability to regulate body temperature and fluid balance.  While we can’t control all factors, keeping an elder well-hydrated is within our realm of care.

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Improve Comfort and Nutritional Health: Tips for Managing COPD

COPD is a wide-spread, debilitating lung disease that makes breathing more difficult over time. I've personally experienced how devastating COPD is to our loved ones. Caring for those with chronic bronchitis and emphysema creates challenges for your organization and direct care staff. 

Symptoms interfere with daily activities like walking, eating and self-care and continue to increase in severity.  Elders with COPD are also at a much higher risk of malnutrition, falls, infections and hospital stays. 

Educating caregivers to manage meals with simple techniques can increase comfort and improve nutritional health.

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Concerned about Choking? Mealtime Tips for Safer Swallowing

Growing older affects the body’s ability to get vital nutrition and stay hydrated - from a reduced sense of smell and taste to slowed digestion to changes of the swallowing reflex.  Dysphagia is the term used to describe difficulty chewing and swallowing.  It may be caused by physiological changes from age or chronic disease like Alzheimer’s.  As many as 600,000 people are affected each year, with that number growing as baby boomers continue to live longer.

 Individuals advanced in age, with late-stage dementia, those who have suffered a stroke or with Parkinson’s or other neurological conditions are at highest risk for dysphagia and related complications. 

While the term dysphagia sounds technical and complex, caregivers can take simple steps to lessen the risk through changes to food choice, texture and mealtime management. Continue reading to learn more.

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Comfort at Mealtime: Favorite Foods for Satisfied Clients

With most of the country in a deep freeze many of us are looking for ways to stay warm and cozy

I head to the kitchen to cook a big pot of steaming vegetable soup. Using the recipe my grandmother taught me nearly 30 years ago, the soup is always hearty and delicious but the memories it invokes are just as warm

Favorite foods can provide comfort and healing, bring back memories and be emotionally significant for your clients, too. Mealtime is a perfect opportunity for caregivers to connect with those in their care. Taking time to learn about food traditions and cooking and serving their favorite meals builds rapport and creates a very personalized level of service.  Caregivers can also get creative with meals for added nutrition or for those on special diets.

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