Family caregivers often have to think carefully about grocery shopping and meal preparations for an elderly loved one. There are many kinds of health conditions that require seniors to be on a strict diet, and celiac disease is one of them. It’s possible for seniors to develop celiac disease late in life, and the only treatment is for them to adhere to a gluten-free diet. Managing celiac disease in the elderly requires a diet that is completely free of gluten.
Celiac Disease and Gluten.
The reason that seniors with celiac disease need a gluten-free diet is because of how their body reacts when it is ingested. Gluten is a protein found in grains like wheat, rye, barley and others. For some unknown reason, some people develop an intolerance toward gluten. The immune system is supposed to protect the body from dangerous substances, like germs and toxins, and employs a number of methods to do so.
When gluten interacts with the body’s immune system, it triggers a response as if it were a dangerous substance. There are small projections on the wall of the small intestine that take in nutrients for the body. The attacks damage the intestinal walls, making it hard for them to function properly. When no gluten is ingested, the small intestine is spared any attacks and functions properly.
Tips for Managing Celiac Disease.
Helping an aging loved one stick to a strict gluten-free diet isn’t going to be easy, but when family caregivers know it will make a big difference in their loved one’s quality of life, it becomes a high priority. All these diet management tips should also be shared with other family members, home care assistants, family friends and especially with the elderly person themselves.
These tips can help seniors avoid triggering unpleasant and unhealthy symptoms of celiac disease:
- Meet with a dietician to get more information on nutrition and meal planning. These experts can help build a diet that is ideal for a senior with celiac disease that includes all the important nutrients and avoid sources of gluten.
- Learn what foods typically contain gluten and keep a handy chart or put an app on a smart phone that informs everyone about what foods are and are not acceptable.
- Take every opportunity to read labels, because gluten is found in many different types of processed food and it may not be so obvious. Examples include salad dressing, gravy, and hot dogs.
- Find out what non-food items may also contain gluten, such as vitamins, lipstick and medications.
- Purchase gluten-free cookbooks to aid in meal planning so family caregivers don’t have to search to find safe recipes or struggle to come up with substitutions that are gluten-free.
- Schedule regular checkups between the elderly person and the doctor to ensure the disease is kept in check and no further complications are developing.
Family caregivers have a lot of input when it comes to what kind of food is prepared and served to their aging loved one. By following the advice and guidance of experts, they can find success in managing celiac disease in their elderly loved one.
If you or someone you know needs caregiver services in Dover, NH, contact the staff at Atlantic Homelife Senior Care. We provide quality and affordable home care for many disabled and elderly loved ones in our community. Call us at 603-343-4434 for more information.