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How to Address Late-Onset Food Allergies in Aging Adults

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Late-onset food allergies can occur in people between the ages of 18 to 86. The older an individual is at the time of onset, the more severe the allergic reaction will be. Some of the most common food allergies involve fish, nuts, peanuts, shellfish, and soy products, and they affect up to 10 percent of the elderly population. If your loved one has just been diagnosed with food allergies, here are a few ways you can address this issue.

Determine the Causes of Food Allergies

Food allergies can develop as the immune system ages, through a process known as immunosenescence. The degradation of immunological mast cells, decreased gastrointestinal acid, and insufficient levels of vitamin D, iron, and zinc lead to abnormal levels of immunoglobulin E, which is associated with allergies. 

Seniors can face a variety of challenges as they age, many of which can be mitigated with the help of professional in-home caregivers who provide high-quality elder home care. Jefferson County families trust in Home Care Assistance to help their elderly loved ones age in place safely and comfortably.

Address Food Allergies

Once a food allergy is suspected and diagnosed, the senior must stop eating the item. Older adults or family members should check food labels for allergens when shopping for groceries. Care must also be taken when eating out at restaurants or in the homes of relatives. When you’re attending community or family gatherings with your loved one, make sure to bring non-allergenic food for him or her. 

Consider Additional Therapeutic Options

If a senior accidentally eats an item that causes a reaction, doctors sometimes recommend over-the-counter antihistamines. If anaphylaxis is a possibility, physicians may prescribe epinephrine pen devices for emergencies. 

Seniors might undergo evaluation for vitamin and mineral deficiencies, and they may need vitamins A, B-complex, C, D, and E along with iron and zinc. Supplements are necessary if avoiding the suspect food causes a nutritional deficiency. 

Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids such as herring, mackerel, salmon, sardines, and tuna interfere with histamine release and reduce inflammation.

Bifidobacterium, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and L-glutamine boost gastrointestinal health by preventing the absorption of amino acids in allergens. These probiotics are found in kefir and yogurt. 

Your loved one can also boost his or her immune system by reducing alcohol intake and getting 30 minutes of exercise five times each week.

As a family caregiver, helping your loved one manage food allergies can be an overwhelming task at times. Families who find it difficult to care for their aging loved ones without assistance can benefit greatly from professional respite care. Jefferson County, CO, family caregivers who need a break from their caregiving duties can turn to Home Care Assistance. Using our proprietary Balanced Care Method, our respite caregivers can encourage your loved one to eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of mental and social stimulation, and focus on other lifestyle factors that promote longevity.

Learn About Food Allergy Symptoms

Food allergy symptoms range from mild to severe. Reactions may occur on the skin, the eyes, lips and mouth, ears, in the upper respiratory tract, the gastrointestinal tract, or in the cardiovascular system. When the reaction affects the gastrointestinal tract, inflammation occurs, which prevents nutrient absorption and leads to anemia and fatigue. 

When vague symptoms occur, they are often mistaken for autoimmune disorders, environmental allergies, infections, or sleep pattern disorders. Some traits are considered a natural part of aging. However, other symptoms may indicate long-term health conditions such as gastrointestinal disorders or cognitive decline.

When planning your loved one’s diet, it is important to consult his or her physician. This is because quitting several healthy foods due to an allergic reaction could make your loved one susceptible to Alzheimer’s disease. If your elderly loved one is living with Alzheimer’s and needs help managing the symptoms, turn to Home Care Assistance, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s home care. Jefferson County seniors can rely on our revolutionary Cognitive Therapeutics Method (CTM), an activities-based program that helps slow cognitive decline and delay the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. CTM also encourages seniors to engage with others in an enjoyable way and helps them build new routines to look forward to. Call us at (303) 987-5992 to create a customized care plan for your elderly loved one.