According to The National Coffee Association, older adults drink more coffee than any other age group. In a survey of individuals age 64 and older, 20 percent admitted they would rather give up sex than coffee. Clearly, America’s seniors love their coffee. But what is the effect of caffeine on the older adult? Can too much of a good thing really be bad?
The short answer is yes – but that’s true of anything. Too much of any one thing can have serious side effects, and the same is true of caffeine. Excessive caffeine consumption can be harmful – especially for seniors. But what is “excessive”? And how can caregivers use a home care system or home care software to help regulate their clients’ caffeine intake?
Just like overindulging in sweets or alcohol, ignoring the risks associated with caffeine would be irresponsible for the health-conscious senior. Several studies in recent years have addressed coffee’s impact on older adults and concluded that drinking caffeine in moderation poses little risk. So what, exactly, is “in moderation”?
According to the Mayo Clinic, more than 500 to 600 milligrams (about 5 to 7 cups) of caffeine a day can lead to significant dehydration. Other sources recommend sticking to just 3 cups of coffee daily, as dehydration is not the only risk. Caregivers can set daily reminders in their home care software or home care system for offering their senior clients coffee. Tracking their intake in this way will prevent overconsumption.
As a stimulant, caffeine revs up the nervous system. This can lead to jittery nerves, stomach upset and heartburn. Excessive consumption has also been known to cause:
- Increased blood pressure
- Reduced bone strength
In addition to coffee, caffeine is also found in tea, chocolate, soda, and certain medications. Caregivers with split shifts should take note of any additional sources of caffeine in their home care system or home care software so other assigned caregivers can adjust their care plan accordingly.
As mentioned, caffeine can cause dehydration. Seniors are more sensitive to fluctuations in the amount of fluid in their body so dehydration can cause lightheadedness – even falling. To prevent dehydration, seniors should drink plenty of water throughout the day. For seniors who are a fall risk, this can be noted in ClearCare Online’s home care system and home care software so caregivers are aware.
In moderation, caffeine is fine for most elderly persons. For seniors with ulcers, diabetes, gastritis or osteoporosis, the effects of caffeine may be more harmful and not worth the risk. Consult with your doctor if you have any questions or concerns about your caffeine intake. For any questions about ClearCare Online’s home care system or home care software, call 1-800-449-0645 and ask for a free demonstration.