Celiac disease is a condition that causes the body to launch an immune response when the person eats food that contains gluten. It causes symptoms like diarrhea, abdominal pain, and gas. However, its affects are not confined to the digestive system. Over time, it can also damage the nervous system, cause joint pain, and lead to bone loss. There is no cure for celiac. It is a life-long condition that impacts people into their senior years.
Many people don’t have a good understanding of the disease and may believe the myths they read. Below are 5 myths that family caregivers to seniors with celiac disease should know the truth about.
Myth #1: People Can Outgrow Celiac Disease
Truth: Doctors used to think that celiac disease went away as people got older. However, they now know that it does not. If your aging relative had celiac disease when they were little, they still have it now. This means they still need to follow a gluten-free diet.
Myth #2: People with Celiac Should Not Eat Foods Manufactured in Facilities Where Wheat is Used
Truth: When you see a statement indicating a food was processed in a facility where wheat is used, that is an allergen advisory. It does not mean there is wheat in the food. However, there is a chance of cross-contamination. If the food is labeled as gluten-free, it is safe even if there is an allergen advisory on the label. There are laws surrounding the use of “gluten-free” on the label, so you can rest assured the food does not contain gluten.
Myth #3: Celiac Disease is an Allergy
Truth: The way the body of a person who has celiac disease responds to gluten is completely different than an allergic reaction. It is possible to be allergic to wheat, but the symptoms are different. The confusion may be because it is often easier for people to simply say “I’m allergic to gluten” instead of explaining how celiac disease works.
Myth #4: Occasional Cheat Days Are Okay
Truth: Eating foods that contain gluten even occasionally increases the chances of suffering some serious complications. It even makes getting certain kinds of cancer more likely. In addition, if your aging relative cheats and has some gluten, they will probably feel awful later, so it’s probably not worth it.
Myth #5: People with Celiac Disease Need to Use Gluten-Free Beauty Products
Truth: Scientific research shows that gluten isn’t absorbed through the skin. That means it is okay for your older family member to use shampoos and other products that contain gluten unless they might be easily ingested. Shampoo and conditioner that contain gluten are probably fine. However, to be safe, look for lip balms and lipsticks that are gluten free. It’s also a good idea to use gluten free lotions since the gluten may be transferred from hands to food.
Senior care can assist older adults who have celiac disease to manage the condition and eat a diet that is healthy for them. Senior care providers can remind your loved one to take medications or supplements suggested by the doctor. Senior care can also help with planning gluten-free meals and drive the older adult to the grocery store to shop. If cooking is a challenge, a senior care provider can cook delicious meals that conform to a gluten-free diet.
If you or a senior family member are considering hiring Senior Care Services in Fair Lawn, NJ, please contact the caring staff at Caring Solutions Home Care LLC. In-home senior care servicing Bergen & Passaic Counties. Call today at (973) 427-3553.
I started my career as an ICU nurse over 30 years ago. I have functioned as an educator and preceptor mentoring new nurses in the clinical arena. I have sat on many Patient Care committees authoring a variety of patient care protocols.
In 2007, I saw an opportunity to improve the delivery of patient care services in the home and founded Caring Solutions Home Care. Over the last 10 years I have functioned as the Director of Nursing overseeing all client care, administrative and personnel operations.