Every day, 70-year-old Anand wakes up bright and early at home. His Alserv-assigned patient caretaker in Chennai, Uma arrives to prepare his customized breakfast and handle household chores while he reads the paper. Daily, Anand tries to convince Uma to give him an extra cup of coffee. She rarely obliges. This upsets him: it’s just coffee, right?
Coffee is one of the most popular beverages worldwide, with 400 billion cups consumed every year. Yet, during her training for geriatric care in Chennai, Uma learnt that while coffee has many benefits, from higher energy levels to better moods, it has downsides too. As people age, their bodies become more sensitive to caffeine. This is why Uma is careful about the quantity she serves Anand.
When contemplating how much coffee is okay for seniors, it is important to understand its impact. Here are some aspects to consider:
Source of Nutrients and Antioxidants
Coffee beans contain many essential vitamins and nutrients. Research suggests that some of these nutrients reduce the risk of diseases, from inflammation and type 2 diabetes to heart failure and even cancers. When consumed in moderation, coffee can be a great immunity booster.
Caffeine improves metabolism and can help with fat reduction. This is perhaps why caffeine is often used in fat-decreasing supplements. For seniors who struggle with low energy or obesity, drinking coffee can provide that extra boost of energy for physical activity while helping burn off more calories.
Improves Mental Health
Caffeine boosts dopamine and serotonin levels in the brain in small amounts. This can reduce the risk of mental health disorders like depression. It can also improve concentration, alertness and memory. This is perhaps why a morning cuppa for seniors can instantly put them in a good mood.
Causes Insomnia and Restlessness
Caffeine is a stimulant. Too much of it (more than 400mg a day) can cause restlessness and irritability. Also, if consumed later in the day, it increases the possibility of insomnia. Since seniors are sensitive to caffeine, even a slight increase in coffee consumption can wreck their sleep schedules.
Hampers Absorption of Certain Nutrients
While coffee can be a rich source of certain nutrients, it inhibits the absorption of others like iron, calcium and vitamin B6. This can put seniors at a higher risk for anaemia, bone weakness and skin problems.
Increases Bladder Activity
Although coffee doesn’t directly cause dehydration, it can increase bladder activity. Frequent urination and even incontinence are common side-effects of excess caffeine. Seniors with an overactive bladder may find this bothersome.
The Jury on Coffee for Seniors
While coffee is not a complete no-go for seniors, it is best to moderate its consumption. Since other foods such as chocolate and tea contain caffeine, seniors should monitor how much of it they consume daily. Another option is to consider a switch to decaffeinated coffee or have kombucha or herbal drinks instead. At Alserv, our at-home expert patient caretakers in Chennai like Uma can curate individual diets, including permitted caffeine intake for seniors. We also provide other services for geriatric care in Chennai to make life independent and effortless!