The Effects of Caffeine on Seniors
Most people love the effects that caffeine can have on their mind and their body and how quickly it can help any person get that extra boost of energy that they need to take on the day. For most people, this caffeine source comes from coffee. However, according to The National Coffee Association, seniors actually drink more coffee than any other age group and are consuming more caffeine on address than other Americans.
While caffeine in and of itself is not bad, it is still important to understand the effects that too much caffeine can have on older adults. Just like most great things in life, too much of a good thing can have certain risks, especially on seniors.
If you are one of the many older adults who loves to indulge in lots of caffeine consumption throughout the day, or if you are taking care of a senior loved one who consumes a lot of coffee, here are a few facts about caffeine, especially coffee, consumption to know.
- Excessive caffeine consumption can lead to significant dehydration. In general, drinking too much coffee will leave people dehydrated, especially seniors who are already prone to dehydration or susceptible due to any medications they may be taking. According to the Mayo Clinic, drinking more than 5 cups of coffee can lead to very serious dehydration side effects, so seniors should limit themselves to just three cups per day.
- Coffee can actually put the nervous system into overdrive. This can cause jittery nerves, heartburn, and upset stomach. If your senior loved one is experiencing these side effects then you may want to limit their coffee consumption.
- Seniors with dementia may be putting their health at risk with too much coffee consumption. Seniors with dementia who are used to the routine of drinking coffee or who may forget about how much coffee they are drinking may end up consuming more caffeine than their body can handle. Caregivers should consider setting a timer to help manage coffee consumption or switching seniors to decaffeinated.
- Some of the more serious neurological side effects of caffeine in seniors include: anxiety, sleeplessness, increased blood pressure and more.
While caffeine in moderation is fine for most seniors, elderly adults who already have ulcers, gastritis or diabetes should limit their caffeine intake. This not only means coffee but things like tea, soda, chocolate, and sugary drinks. Seniors with osteoporosis should also limit their caffeine intake as over time too much caffeine can actually reduce bone strength and make this condition worse.
Of course, any senior who is consuming a significant amount of caffeine during the day should also be drinking plenty of water to stay as healthy and as hydrated as possible. Caregivers should always be paying close attention to how much their seniors are drinking caffeine, keeping their water intake up and making certain that their caffeine isn’t negatively interacting with any of their medications.
- Kimberly Langdon M.D. is a retired, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center, earning first-place for her senior research project and placed in the 98th percentile on the national exam for OB/GYN residents in the U.S..
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