January 10, 2018
Caffeine is commonly found in beverages like coffee, tea, and soda and in foods like chocolate. It is also not uncommon to find caffeine added to everything from protein bars and breakfast cereal to over-the-counter medications. Family caregivers are responsible for their elderly relative’s health, and many wonder whether or not caffeine is healthy for them. Of course, the answer is that caffeine can be both good and bad for seniors.
Benefits of Caffeine In Moderation
When consumed in moderation, studies show that caffeine can actually have a positive effect on an elderly person’s physical and mental health. Moderate consumption is considered to be equal to no more than four cups of coffee per day, or around 400 milligrams of caffeine.
The most common benefit of caffeine is the boost of energy and alertness that people feel. Because elderly people are often overly tired or may not have the endurance or energy of their youth, caffeine can provide that added burst they need. Studies have also linked moderate consumption with improved memory and cognition, as well as focus and concentration.
Caffeine may also help the body prevent certain diseases and illnesses. Seniors that consume caffeine can reduce the risk of developing gallstones, liver cancer, colon cancer, Parkinson’s disease, skin cancer, migraines, asthma and more. Of course, family caregivers and their elderly relatives should always check with a doctor to get some input on proper levels of caffeine consumption.
Overconsumption of Caffeine is Harmful
Of course, too much caffeine can harm an elderly person’s health and wellness. Taking in more than 400 milligrams of caffeine per day, equivalent to more than five cups of coffee, can create some negative side effects in seniors. Caffeine affects the nervous system so those with muscle spasms, insomnia or simple jitters should avoid it. It’s also bad for elderly adults with high blood pressure to consume too much caffeine.
Overconsumption of caffeine can lead to other significant health issues. Certain diseases can be exacerbated by lots of caffeine, such as ulcers, diabetes, gastritis, osteoporosis and more. Other negative health effects include dehydration, gastrointestinal distress, heartburn, accelerated heartbeat, insomnia, muscle tremors and general irritability. Sometimes caffeine can even interfere with the effectiveness of certain medicines and their effect on the body. Family caregivers should always consult with a doctor about the amount of their elderly loved one’s caffeine intake.
If family caregivers and senior care aides can limit seniors who enjoy coffee, tea or other caffeinated foods and drinks, they can gain all the benefits and none of the harm. However, if the elderly adult’s caffeine consumption is hard to control or is causing health issues, it needs to be curtailed. It’s important for family caregivers and senior care aides to keep an eye on the milligrams of caffeine per day to ensure they stay within the healthy limits. The bottom line is that caffeine is generally harmless and it is actually beneficial to elderly people in moderation. However, too much caffeine will do more harm than good every time.