At nearly every assisted living community and senior gathering, you'll find freshly brewed coffee and tea. But are those daily cuppas causing problems because of the caffeine? This substance boosts energy, but can also cause issues – particularly among senior populations. Read on if you're wondering how caffeine affects your senior loved ones.
According to the Mayo Clinic, an eight ounce cup of coffee contains between 95 and 200 milligrams of caffeine. Even decaffeinated coffee still has around 2 to 12 milligrams of caffeine. Older adults often have fluctuations in their bodily fluids. This can make their joints painful due to lack of lubrication, and cause dehydration. Caffeine can worsen the problem, leading to headaches and lightheadedness. While a younger person may experience a jolt of energy, a senior who has had too much caffeine may feel anxious or jittery.
"Every individual has his or her own tolerance for caffeine."
How much is too much?
Every individual has his or her own tolerance for caffeine. Some people become shaky and jumpy after just a few sips of coffee or soda while others can have several cups with no issue. An article published in Aacta Med Croatica found that individuals who have depleted enzymatic systems, or liver issues, do not tolerate coffee well. These seniors may experience heartburn or stomach troubles due to caffeine. In general, one to two 8-ounce cups of coffee should be OK for most seniors. Anyone who has a heart condition or is on medication should speak with his or her doctor about whether to limit caffeine intake. This stimulant may be dangerous when combined with certain medicines or health conditions.
Caffeine and sleep issues
Trouble sleeping is a common complaint of seniors. Some have difficulty falling asleep or staying at rest. Others are constantly sleepy and require naps throughout the day. Caffeine can have an effect on these issues. Seniors should avoid drinking caffeinated beverages within several hours of when they plan to go to bed. This provides enough time for the stimulant to wear off, allowing the senior to fall asleep naturally. Some medications can also interfere with sleep, so seniors who have sleep troubles should discuss this issue with their physicians.
Caffeine and memory
Why do so many people drink caffeine? They want the energy – but they're also gaining attentiveness. Some studies are researching whether caffeine can help individuals who have Alzheimer's disease or dementia to lessen cognitive decline. The results of similar studies are conflicting, but individuals may find experimenting with different amounts of caffeine can help them stay focused and remember.
Many seniors have enjoyed a cup of coffee or soda every day for years. Just the thought of cutting back can be scary! Thankfully there are options. For example, drinking caffeinated tea can have different effects than coffee as this drink slowly releases caffeine, mitigating that intense jittery burst associated with other caffeinated beverages. Cutting caffeine completely may leave seniors with lower energy. To combat this lethargy, eat more fibrous meals to provide long-lasting stamina.