During the month of November, it is the goal of the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness to increase the awareness and education level of Americans about celiac disease. That’s why November is officially designated as Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month and it’s ideal for family caregivers and elderly adults to learn more about the condition and how to minimize its effects in their lives.
Here are some frequently asked questions about celiac disease and a gluten-free diet that will benefit seniors and their family caregivers:
Q: What exactly is a gluten-free diet for?
A: Celiac disease is the body’s inability to process the protein gluten. Gluten is found in grains like wheat and rye. When an elderly adult eats one of these foods, it triggers the body to attack its own small intestine. Symptoms include bloating, belching, gas, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and abdominal pain. However, if the aging adult with celiac disease enjoys a gluten-free diet, the symptoms disappear.
Q: What is Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month?
A: Celiac disease frequently goes undiagnosed because the symptoms are often confused with other conditions. Also, many people are embarrassed to talk to a doctor or family member about the symptoms. For those who may be recently diagnosed with celiac disease, starting treatment can be difficult. All these reasons and more are why people need the information provided during Gluten-Free Diet Awareness Month.
Q: What does a gluten-free diet for seniors look like?
A: A gluten-free diet can be quite a challenge to embrace, and elderly adults may need some extra help, especially if they are dependent on others for their meal preparation. Steering clear of wheat-based foods and snacks like crackers, bread, pastries, pasta and more will help elderly adults feel better every day. The best food for a gluten-free diet includes fruit, vegetables, lean protein, beans and nuts. There are also gluten-free bread and pasta products on the market as well.
Q: Does going gluten-free really help with celiac disease?
A: There is no cure for celiac disease and the only treatment that works is to participate in a gluten-free diet. Sticking to the diet is essential for seniors to enjoy a symptom-free life. Although it may be a struggle for them to give up one of their favorite gluten foods, the way they feel about themselves and avoiding those painful symptoms make it all worth it.
Q: What if seniors don’t make their own food?
A: The hardest part of a gluten-free diet comes when someone is not in control of preparing their own food. Elderly adults with physical limitations depend on family caregivers, friends and home care providers who prepare meals on their behalf. It’s important that family caregivers coordinate gluten-free diet information with anyone who cares for their elderly relative.
Q: How do home care providers help seniors with celiac disease?
A: A big part of a home care provider’s duties is to do meal planning and preparation. Home care providers are trained and experienced in working with seniors and specialized diets. They will ensure that aging adults get healthy snacks and gluten-free meals that are delicious, nutritious and satisfying.